Raymond Lemstra is an artist whose work reflects a deep appreciation for both primitive art and the subconscious workings of the inner mind. He has a very distorted and humorous output of big-headed people with over-emphasized features, full of wonder and turmoil. We recently got a chance to catch up with Raymond to ask him what he is up to.
Your artwork is very humorous and completely landing in a nether zone of something antiquated and something from a slightly altered universe. How do your drawings compare to your home/studio surroundings?
RL: At the moment I work at home, no distraction, which is always nice. I usually clean out my desk/table and try to make space to draw. Put on music. Or put on an inspiring movie, like Akira for example. My home is based in one the most ugly streets in Amsterdam, though some people disagree. But the neighborhood is awesome. It’s a big mix of cultures, and cheap shops for food. I live on the edge of Amsterdam, which provides me with the opportunity to go for long walks or bike rides outside of the city easily. So I do this often, when the weather let’s me :)
Do your surroundings have an effect on your work & your dreams?
RL: I lived on a living-boat in Groningen for a couple of years, on which my bedroom was build on the side of it, a bit improvised on floating oil-cans. The floor was only made out of wood, so you could see the water underneath it if you’d pull up the carpet. So you can image that it would get super cold in winter times. I could blow clouds in my bed when I exhaled… This extreme cold made me dream the weirdest dreams.
So are your little creatures just mulling around in your head or is there a bit more to what is happening between inception and the finished pieces?
RL: It is more about finding shapes and colors, putting them into context, and seeing how they communicate. Facial recognition, the symbolic purpose of masks throughout all cultures, but also the way people depict human-shapes, faces, through time.
What sort of music is inspiring you lately?
RL: I like good music, not a certain style. Lately I’ve been listening to… in random order… Twin Shadow, Koudlam, Huun-Huur-Tuu, John Maus, Talking Heads, Anika, Mark Gormley, Bogdan Raczynski, Inoyama Land, Cat Stevens, & Toro Y Moi.
Have you had any great breakthroughs lately regarding shows, connections, or new ideas? What is churning in your thought box these days?
RL: I did a project I initiated called “EEN WEEK” (a week, in Dutch) and was locked up in a gallery for a week. Every day a different artist friend came to look me up to collaborate for a day. At the end of the week our joint effort would be show as an exhibition. It’s there till the 19th of June. It was a heavy week! I slept 4 hours a day and every morning a fresh face would pop up at the gallery front door, and I would be there, just out of bed, ready to draw again, haha! So this weekend I went into a deeeep sleep. Didn’t get to anything constructive really. That’s how it goes.. But now I am back!
Your work is full of characters and scenes that warrant a little explanation, fortunately we have our imaginations to do this for us. Anything in this day to day existence that makes you wonder? Something unexplainable?
Something unexplainable? I don’t know… It just depends on which way you think about it. Maybe the fact that people can even have conversations is pretty unexplainable. If everybody already has a different connotation with the color red, for example, how is it possible we can understand each other when talking about stuff with zillions of these terms we all have different associations with? Of course I am not that naive for real, but it always surprises me and fascinates me. Life is such a weird thing!