SOMETIMES THE CLOUDS LAND
(GENTLY ON SOMEONE'S HEAD)
Ellen Schroven and Palmer Nuyttens
We stand past each other in his studio and look at the Painting of a Spaniard : a large pencil drawing with a single black stroke of paint, dripping down in a long line. Palmer had let gravity surprise himself and left the drawing untouched on his drawing board afterwards. At first he had considered them unfinished, but time had changed that. It's a dark job. Atypical too, because it is mainly the lightness and cheerfulness that are so characteristic of his drawings.
Some time before I met Palmer, I got one of his works on loan from a friend. She left for a year abroad and suggested that I keep the work in my home for so long. It was given a central place in the dining room. Palmer had drawn people and flowers in bright colors. Three clouds floated at the top of the leaf, illuminated by a radiant sun. However, it was only after a few weeks that I noticed a fourth cloud. It had landed on a man's head and settled there in the form of a haircut. I wondered if Palmer had intended it that way, or if gravity had pulled the cloud - secretly and unknowingly - down, just as it had with the black paint.
After a year, I had struggled to say goodbye to the man with the lost cloud on his head, who had often brought joy at the breakfast table in the mornings. Before he left, he had shown me the way to Studio Borgerstein, where some time later I visited the studio of the man who had created him.
I found colorful motifs from all directions and periods, varia shapes on legs, a boy with a moon face, the pope in a jeans suit, a man who had hidden the number four in his beard, and an impressive procession of dozens of figures, among which was written: 'all people like you and me'. I felt at home and asked Palmer if I could stay for a while. He agreed. Together we tried to multiply the moon and let Indian sailors float above a black wave in the Atlantic Ocean. Occasionally there was music by Demis Roussos, but most of the time it was quiet.
When Palmer saw that I started writing in a language that didn't exist, he drew two people who spoke to her. We watched the dialogue they had, the words floating above their heads. We were determined to find out what they had to tell each other and tried to decipher the strange scripture. In vain.
But we were mistaken, as it turned out afterwards. They weren't signs from an incomprehensible language at all. It was not the result of a conversation. It was just the rain. And it cannot be translated, without intention, out of thin air.
Sometimes the clouds land (softly on someone's head)
was made possible in part by the support of the Arts in Society Award .
During the first weeks of my residency, I talked to the artists about what they were making and browsed through the archive to see what path they had taken in recent years. When after a few weeks I started making drawings myself in the studio, I noticed that the curiosity was mutual. The artists asked me why I was drawing, how it was possible that I didn't know what to draw before I started, why I kept turning on music as soon as I held a pencil and whether the characters I scribbled on my sheet were meant to be legible . Questions to which I did not immediately have an answer, but they led to fascinating conversations, which we eventually continued in silence on paper.
Ellen Schroven en Wytze Hingst
Ellen Schroven en Sonny Perez