It is one of the most matter of fact descriptions of a life imaginable, the work entitled "Biography of On Kawara". The contents are listed as a dry "17,615 days". It is also striking that Kawara sums up his own life up to that point and that according to the rules of the genre it therewith actually is an autobiography. Even that reference to the self was too personal for the artist. The absolute absence of details - abstraction in fact - leaves plenty of room for the imagination. You can only imagine what the 48-year-old artist had experienced until then.
The sturdy stack of approximately four hundred drawings that Berend Strik made in about two years time is in a way also an (almost) daily report without it being a literal record of what the artist experienced on a specific date.
In the English texts on them, I recognize quotes from films, fragments of pop songs and sayings or words that mean something other than the literal translation suggests. For example, we looked at a drawing with the word 'moonshine' of which you can only know from too many American films that this is not about moonshine but about home-made alcohol. It is these catchwords and slogans that linger. The words and images that Strik records on paper are therefore no attempt to report his state of mind. Yet the drawings are personal, if only because it is the result of a day of browsing in newspapers, books, films, websites and other media.
The one-way traffic of the mass media is based on consumption by an audience. Strik absorbs all that material and gives it a twist so that the drawings have their own quality. We get to know the maker a bit by the way in which he familiarizes himself with that found material. A preference for humor, for example, which reveals the absurdity of the original message through a slight twist. Like an eager head from a pornography brickwork in the Duomo of Florence. Quoting The Donald to refer to that one duck. Or a title, borrowed from George Harrison, where it is not the 'guitar' but the 'art' that 'gently weeps' and where the colours do indeed dabble over the sheet.
In any case, reflections on art are often reflected in the drawings. Art is praised for its potential, there are all kinds of qualities that are attributed to it. This of course also has to do with the fact that the life of an artist is also partly about making art. Once again there is a sideways glimpse of a personal life. These lyrics about art are uplifting and optimistic, and therefore perhaps slogans in themselves.
The lyrics are mostly aphoristic; they contain a truth without being explained in detail, which is precisely why it provides an opportunity to think further. Because an aphorism is both succinct and powerful, such a sentence can determine the image at a glance. I thought. Strik rightly explained to me that images cannot exist completely independently anyway. The text, therefore, does not compete with the image and is dependent on each other and can only be understood as a whole.
This series of drawings shows how outside influence does not have to make murmur, but with a handy twist can actually be a registration of liveliness.