Running from May to August 2019, Science World’s latest art exhibition, Tides, will showcase the large-scale artwork of BC artist Jan de Beer, who frequently works with household paint upcycled through the PaintShare program.
We caught up with de Beer to discover more about the paintings on display, his influences when creating them, and how his art spreads a message of sustainability, inclusivity, and love of nature. Read to the end to discover how you can meet Jan and attend the gallery’s exclusive opening night.
How Jan de Beer created Tides
Randomness is an important part of de Beer’s creative process. Taking inspiration from surrealism and conceptual art, every action and choice he makes – from the colour scheme, to the chaotic swirls, stripes, and drips that make up his paintings – is informed by the last.
“It’s funny – though I often set out with a particular plan for a piece, I almost never stick to it,” says de Beer with a chuckle.
“Once the first drop of paint hits the canvas, it prompts me to engage in whatever action comes next. I find painting to be very visually and physically intensive, almost like a ritual or meditation. I imagine it would be similar to the feeling a dancer would have, dancing with no one watching them.”
Though he often gravitates towards darker colours, De Beer never enters his local PaintShare location with a set colour palette in mind and instead chooses to let the available paint speak to him. “If I don’t use a colour, I simply bring it back for someone else to pick up,” says de Beer.
Tides and social commentary
De Beer considers himself a conceptual artist, rather than a commercial one. He believes creating art should be accessible to all: “I hope that kids who see [Tides] know that there is paint out there and that they can do this themselves, too.” And it’s not by coincidence that he uses leftover paint. De Beer is a passionate environmentalist, and this is reflected in the art he creates.
“If you look at the work of Ai Wei Wei or Banksy, you can see how they use art to make impactful statements that they intend to affect society in a positive way. In a way, what they do—and what I do—is a form of social commentary,” says de Beer. He also draws inspiration from British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, who creates wild sculptures using organic materials. This environmental art draws attention to the natural world, and how we interact with it – making an important statement about the impact our existence has.
De Beer’s love of nature is evident both in his low impact creative process and in Tides’ paintings themselves – the erupting, jagged edges of Inferno, or the way Diptych 2 evokes ocean foam. It’s fitting, then, that Jan will give 65% of proceeds from any artwork sales to PODS, The Pender Harbour Ocean Discovery Station.
PODS and marine conservation
Set for completion in 2020, PODS is a research and education facility that will focus on protecting local marine species at risk, enriching biodiversity, boosting the local economy, and empowering younger generations through tactile educational experiences. “I really like that the title of this exhibition, Tides, links to the work PODS will do,” de Beer says. He notes that ocean plastics are a monumental issue we should all be thinking about.
“It’s so important that we prioritise marine research and also help younger generations cultivate a greater understanding and appreciation for our local oceans. Creating change can start with something as simple as not wasting what we have, and reusing what we can—even paint.”
Add colour to your life with PaintShare
The supply of free paint allows artists, the “Do It Yourself” folk, or anyone willing to get creative the ability to do so at next to no cost. Every brush stroke doesn’t have to produce a masterpiece, which allows for more creativity to flow freely.
Jan says of his local PaintShare location, in Gibsons, British Columbia: “Even though I pick up a lot paint, there are still piles of paint for others to use.” He adds: “You don’t have to paint your whole living room with every colour you pick up—the paint is also great for other projects like old sheds, fences, and even artwork like mine!”
Feeling inspired? Head down to your nearest PaintShare location and pick up some free paint today. If you need even more inspiration, check out these ideas for painting plant pots or see how Monika Hibbs transformed her room using PaintShare paint.
Visit the Tides gallery at Vancouver’s Science World to see Jan de Beer’s paintings in all their glory.