Painting the Town by Susan Campbell Artist Henk Roozendaal gives new meaning to this old expression by creating cool outdoor art all over Bonaire!
Henk Roozendaal’s artwork is hard to miss. The vibrant colors and signature style of his paintings and murals pop up larger than life in unlikely spots all over the island. So what prompted this ex ad man from Amsterdam to settle down and live the artist’s life here? “Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of living on a tropical island,” Henk says. “Finally, in 1999, my wife and son were kind enough to allow me to pack everything up and move us all here to live for good – my dream had come true.” 8
Though Henk’s work can be seen in many prominent locations, surely his most eye-catching creation is the Cultimara Supermarket mural that covers an entire block of downtown Kralendijk. “There’d always been a mural there,” Henk points out, “but it had faded beyond recognition. I decided I would like to try something, but before I had a chance to ask the manager, he asked me!” Henk soon discovered there are challenges to creating enduring outdoor art in a tropical climate. “Here, the sun’s rays shining E Photo courtesy of Henk Roozendaal
Top photo courtesy of Henk Roozendaal. Other photos by Sasha
on a wall make it so hot that your brush sticks to it, and the acrylic paint dries so fast that you can only paint when the surface is shaded. Also, most artists mix the colors right on the canvas/wall, which results in one thin coating that quickly fades. I learned to premix colors and then add two or more coats on top. I finish it off with an additional clear protective coating, which gives my murals a permanent ‘still wet’ look and prevents fading.” Henk refers to his creations as stylized realism; stylized in the sense of graphic design, which is his background. “Reality is chaos. And so I simplify it. I translate everything into straight lines, gentle cur ves, circles, ovals, etc.” Henk has also created two beautiful coffee-table-stylebooks called Portraits of Bonaire (Volumes 1 & 2) with friend and local writer Guus Gerritsen, and he was delighted to have the opportunity to present the first edition to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in person. He participates in many rotating exhibits and offers up his artwork to support local charity events; and this year, the new Landhuis Wanapa became home to a permanent exhibition of his work. 10 Nights
When not diving or snorkeling, you will find the artist in his outdoor garden studio where locals and visitors are welcomed to join him. He also teaches occasional art workshops with local schools when asked. Many visitors have commis sioned portraits from him. Henk says, “Like the old masters, I love to do commissions, but when I don’t have any, I paint anyway... it’s my passion.” And this creative soul has another passion, jazz! An accomplished chromatic harmonica player, he joins The Chris Morkos Jazz band every Tuesday at It Rains Fishes res taurant and every second Sunday at Sense. He also loves to jam with the greats at Bonaire’s annual Heineken Jazz Festival. K To see more of Henk’s work, visit www.henkroozendaal.com. Middle photo by Sasha. Other photos courtesy of Henk Roozendaal
Right photo by Sasha. Other photos courtesy of Henk Roozendaal