“OBAMA, A PRESIDENT TO REMEMBER,” oil paint on canvas, 70 X 90cm.
Impressed by the grand entrance of the American president landing by helicopter in front of the Rijksmuseum, proud he wanted to see our Dutch cultural heritage, and thrilled by the fact that Mr. Obama is fond of Rembrandt, I honor his legacy.
I want my painting “Obama in the Rijks” to keep the highlight of his 2014 visit to the Rijksmuseum alive.
I chose Rembrandt’s ‘Johannes Uytenbogaert’ as the Rijksmuseum art object to transform/refashion into a new art piece. It shows style, prominence, and demands respect. Uytenbogaert was a liberal (theologian), not satisfying the expectations of many (strict) leaders of his time. He dared to follow his own convictions, a bit like Obama.
I had to adjust the photo of Obama to fit in the painting of Rembrandt: not a very smiling Obama, and the light had to come from the left and I wanted his eyes to look straight at the viewer. A little beard fits the aristocrat from the Golden Age.
Of course Rembrandt painted a Bible next to Uytenbogaert. Instead I painted on the left page the Declaration of Independence of July 4 1776, and on the right page you see a presentation of ‘America Get Covered,’ an Obamacare document with the signature of Barack Obama.
An official portrait of a president of the United States shows an American flag; In this case the flag with only thirteen stars.
Uytenbogaert laid his left hand on his breast; his business concerns the heart. It is an empty hand. In “Obama in the Rijks”, Obama proudly holds a medallion with the logo of the Democratic Party.
In my painting I used two ‘Rembrandt-like’ applications:
Like the sleeve in the Jewish Bride, I placed some thick parts of paint in the ground layers of Obama’s black sleeve. Look closely and you will see the unofficial logo of the Democratic Party: the donkey.
I used the backside of my thin brush, not to create some hair, like Rembrandt used to do, but to show/ underline the difference in structure of the fur coat.
The ring Obama wears is a representation of his real wedding ring.
Watching seventeenth century Obama, forces us to reflect on history. This painting could not be made in that time. An aristocratic black Obama in a leadership role was not possible back then. The reality of today placed back in the past is confronting in a sense.
We live in a rapidly changing world. While looking back I hope we will remember the presidency of Barack Obama with gratitude. I hope my painting will contribute. This painting is for sale. Please contact me.
Benjamin Louwerse – born in Leyden in 1947 – inspired by the lives of Albert Schweitzer and Martin Luther King he decided at the age of eighteen not to go to Art Academy but went to Seminary instead. He worked as an ordained minister for twenty years. After a burn out he got a second chance in life, as a lecturer in Theology and Cultural Analysis at Windesheim University for applied sciences, till his retirement in 2012.
At the age of twelve, Benjamin received an oil painting box set for his birthday and was hooked right away. From the beginning he enjoyed painting portraits. At the age of 15 he painted John F. Kennedy after he was murdered, for which he still has the thank you letter from Jacqueline Kennedy.
He has been painting all his life, and has been painting professionally since his retirement. He has his own work shop in downtown Zwolle.
Barack Obama, portraits, classic painting, Rembrandt, Rijksmuseum, Democrats, democratic party