Bolsonaro and Deforestation - A Brand New Art Project - Sketches and Paintings [part 2]

In this series of blogs in trying to give the viewer some insight into how a body of work, around one subject, is created. How do I start a project? What kind of research is needed? What steps can you take towards a series of paintings? I’m not saying that my approach is perfect, I’d say its one of my weakest points probably. But therefore even more interesting to share, hoping on some feedback or tips from the audience.

Progress and Prosperity (body of sketches) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Progress and Prosperity (body of sketches) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

My work must be two-sided

These are the most recent sketches from my series about Bolsonaro and deforestation. I’m trying to depict recent struggles in the Amazon rainforest. While the Paris Agreement remains ignored by the ‘fresh’ Brazilian president, vast stretches of land are being clear-cut.

Even though the issue concerns me greatly, I try to depict these issues with neutrality. There is money to make and jobs are opening up, there’s no denying that. So instead of showing some kind of terrible tragedy, I try to show the other side. The view of the loggers and entrepreneurs.

Even though I’m trying to make the loggers’ projects seem positive, my personal opinion seeps through every work. There is a danger looming over the works. The works are colorful but almost like a poisonous frog, they are colors of warning.

Progress and Prosperity (body of sketches) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Progress and Prosperity (body of sketches) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

The love for construction workers

I love drawing construction machines and uniformed men. They become a kind of tribe, with certain rituals and a specific appearance. For some reason, construction workers fascinated me for years. Because I bike around Amsterdam at night very often I see them working on projects by night. They build our world, what we see, how we move around. To me, the construction worker has become a symbol of ‘progress’. But it’s a form of progress I personally don’t support in this case.

In earlier sketches, I used a lot of men in suits as ‘authority’. They looked like the designers of our world, which I think is mostly true. But I think the usage of suits is a bit dull in most cases. Kind of a cliché. I like working with the ‘little man’, The people who have to do the dirty work and are right there on the spot.

Progress and Prosperity (body of sketches) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Progress and Prosperity (body of sketches) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Trying to own the subject

By sketching you start to get to know your subjects. I’m starting to fall in love with the pictures I use. The paintings I used to make were directly drawn from pictures. It’s a quick way to work. But by making many sketches I have the feeling I’m starting to own the subject way more. I know how a Caterpillar should look. My dreams are about helmets and reflective striped jackets.

Sketching allows you to make the right choices early on. But for me, more importantly, to make the right mistakes. The mistakes make sure you go beyond your own ideas and plans and elevate your work to something unexpected.

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Progress and Prosperity (body of sketches) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Progress and Prosperity (body of sketches) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Bolsonaro and Deforestation - A New Art Project - Sketches and Paintings [part 1]

Last month I read an article about Bolsonaro in a Dutch magazine (Groene Amsterdammer). When I finished reading the article I strongly felt like I had to say something about this subject. And by saying I mean drawing, painting, and sculpting.

I’m trying to show the view of the loggers and entrepreneurs. They probrably see the untouched forest as a missed opportunity.

Progress and Prosperity (digital sketch 1) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Progress and Prosperity (digital sketch 1) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Gathering the information

First I needed to do some more research about the subject. While I’m trying to find articles and video’s I thought to myself: fuck, they are all choosing the same side. All Western media think it’s important to protect the pristine Amazon forests. When this subject is covered you see pictures of bad men with chainsaws and indigenous Amazon inhabitants struggling to survive. I do support those views myself. But I thought it might be interesting to depict this subject from the view of the entrepreneurs, loggers and plantation owners. How do they see this vast landscape? What do they see when they look at the Amazon forest, and how do they view their projects? The land their clearcutting is way more useful after they are done with it.

Progress and Prosperity (digital sketch 2) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Progress and Prosperity (digital sketch 2) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Political views on the environment

For now, I’m trying to read as many articles and seeing as much documentation as I can. I’m using video frames and pictures as a basis for digital sketches. I manipulate and color the images so a story can come forth. I never used this technique before but it means I have a great deal of control over the process. It’s also very important to organize my thoughts about this subject. That’s why I started this blog.

This is the first time my body of work is this… political. On the one hand, the subject is far away. On the other hand, it feels like my kind of fight. I’ve always been interested in the relationship between man and nature. The way humans want to structure and control everything. It seems like nature has to be useful and structured.

A lot of studies show that biodiversity and lushness are extremely important. Swiss scientists published an article in ‘Science’ about the effect of trees on global warming. They found that if we would start planting around one billion trees we can reduce the CO2 concentration by 25 percent.

Yet, it seems that that’s not the direction we're heading. The leaders of the countries that have space to execute that endeavor, don't have this issue on their agenda.
It doesn't seem like Bolsonaro, Putin and Trump will look at long term solutions(to a problem they don't think to exist in the first place) To them, nature needs to be of short term economical use, hence nature will be determined by grids and mono-usage. It’s a frightning sight to behold.

Progress and Prosperity (digital sketch 3) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Progress and Prosperity (digital sketch 3) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

The people in the pictures need to be cooperating in the process, but also seem powerless to the bigger picture. As you can see the outer layer of the trees are dull and ‘worthless’ to the two loggers. The inside is what counts. It’s sellable. The thees are useful when they’re horizontal instead of vertical. Even though the trees provide a certain degree of wealth in the short term. The background is slowly disappearing. The canopy is balding and the lush forest is shrinking to a shadow of what it used to be.

It’s this short term mentality that put Bolsonaro in the president’s seat in the first place, and what will have a devastating effect on the Amazon Basin. How much effect the new logging regulations and mining endeavors will have is a question only time can answer, I guess.

Progress and Prosperity (digital sketch 4) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra

Progress and Prosperity (digital sketch 4) - 2019 - Jonat Deelstra