Issue 160, Winter 2001
Every weekday morning for the past twenty years. Philip Akkerman has set to work painting his self-portrait. To dale, he has produced some 1,670 portraits—an average of two to three a week. He paints nothing else.
“In my series of self portraits, the story of life is presented twice. In the first place in the picture. You see a head growing older. That goes without saying. But there is another story in which this process of growing older can be seen. And that is the story of technique.”
At first, Akkerman thought of the portraits as a sort of conceptual-art project. “When I started painting self-portraits … I was not interested in what those paintings looked like. One day I painted this way and the next day that. As befits a young person, I couldn’t careless. After a few years, I got bored with this and I wanted to do some real nice and beautiful paintings. To my sad disappointment I found out that I could not paint at all. So I became a technical nerd, spending half of the time in the library reading old manuscripts. Some ten years later I was able to produce any painting in any style.” Bored again, he began “painting not just myself but all of mankind, in fact: all existence! In the end, I was convinced of the idea that we do not exist at all! Obviously, I could not go on that way any longer and recently I have decided to pick just one style and paint my self-portrait in that style for the rest of my days: no more variation, no more thinking, no more feelings.”