Quality is the first norm for art, but its final norm is love and truth, the enriching of human life, the deepening of our vision.


Gootjes, Jan Pieter - VM - Mariska van Beusichem

Jan Pieter Gootjes: Disrobed 
by Mariska van Beusichem
I got to know the work of Jan Pieter Gootjes while visiting the Gereformeerde Hogeschool (Reformed College) in Zwolle, The Netherlands, to give a lecture about Thomas à Kempis. Jan Pieter had an exhibition of his work in the school building at that time. The work Disrobed especially spoke to me. It made me think of the experience of ‘standing naked before God’ that one encounters in mysticism. Recently I wrote the following meditation on the work:
I dressed myself in concepts.
In rules.
What had been taught to me
I carried like a shield.
Something tried to touch me.
It was not possible. It was not allowed.
It was not fitting.
I thought.
My clothes were my protection.
I thought myself secure.
I kept to the beaten track
of other people’s
covered my shame.
My skin was concealed
under many layers.
Something wanted to touch me.
It was not possible. It was not allowed.
It was not fitting.
I thought.
But my desire was aroused.
Since that day
an unextinguishable fire
seemed to burn
in the depth
of my heart.
My clothes pricked.
They itched.
They did not fit me anymore.
In this way I moved on for a long time.
My walk slowed down.
My step
lost its confidence.
I dragged my robe
with me like a burden.
In the past I knew everything.
People came to me
for advice.
Now I did no longer know anything.
Then I saw You.
In Your eyes such love.
Your gaze caressed
through layers of clothing
my skin.
The fire burned up brightly.
The heat left me no choice.
I threw my garments
Suddenly I understood
Whose hand
all that time
had tried to touch me.
I saw
Whom I had resisted.
I tried to dry
Your tears.
Now You touch me everywhere.
Naked I stand before you
and You stand before me.
I am safe
in Your embrace.
Light and space is
what I feel.
Unprecedented joy.
And love.
A sea of love.
Look, I now say.
This is who I am.
Sometimes I see confusion
in the eyes of people.
Sometimes disapproval.
No longer do I wear my garments.
I am not ashamed of anything.
Disrobed 2, animal skin, 60 x 113 x 2 cm, 2009.
Mariska van Beusichem (Utrecht, 1968) is a minister in the Reformed church (PKN) in The Netherlands. She is the chairman of the Thomas à Kempis Foundation in Zwolle and is working on a dissertation on spirituality and mysticism at the Titus Brandsma Institute in Nijmegen, NL.
Jan Pieter Gootjes was born in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, in 1950. From 1972-1977 he studied at the Art Academy Minerva in Groningen. After his training he made ceramic sculptures and painted watercolours. In 1981 he moved to Zwolle with his family. There he affiliated himself with the local organization for artists, and extended his work with jewellery and sculpture. He has taken part in many exhibitions and received numerous commissions. An example of a commission is the war monument in Bedum in the north of The Netherlands; another work is a mural in the church De Voorhof in Apeldoorn. Besides commissions there have been acquisitions by towns and the state, corporate companies and private persons. On the last Saturday of each month his studio is open to exhibit his work and that of his wife, Ludie Gootjes-Klamer.
For more about Jan Pieter Gootjes on the ArtWay website, click here