The Art of Seeing

The Art of Seeing

The scent of freshly baked bread, music that moves you, a loving caress, the serene beauty of a painting; the basis of my life and work are sensory experiences. And I use colour to pass on these sensations. The precise colours, I find in an instinctive, intuitive and meditative way.

A way which is limited on all sides.  And which also requires some preparation: It starts with the choice of the branch. The shape and size of the branch is often inspired by a tool. Do I want a staff, a cudgel, a sceptre, a yardstick, a dipstick, an antenna, a ranging pole or something else entirely?

The ranging pole is the tool of the surveyor. On the photo, taken a hundred years ago in Idaho, the ranging poles still looked slightly more complicated. Now, it is the familiar red-and-white pole one pricks into the ground. Incidentally, the surveyor is a special observer, because he looks without judgement and sees without wish: he sees what is there, accepts everything and rejects nothing. That is why I connect the ranging pole with independent perception, with the true art of seeing, without influences or limitations. And look what pleasure that brings to this female survey crew!

The title for the series, I borrowed from a book I read forty-five years ago, which, back then, was already old-fashioned and tough. The title: The Art of Seeing, remains a current issue. Current, because perception in the age of digital memory functions differently.

In fact, it seems that the behaviour you are tempted into in the 21st century, automatically makes you visually impaired. The book made a big impression on me at the time. It might not be all that useful to people with genetically determined myopia. But for me it was true that with three instructions from this book, I could correct my own behaviour at an early stage.  It has greatly improved my own perception, literally opening up a world to me.

Frank Bezemer 2018


1) Relax! Do not overload your eyes. Blink regularly, always allowing your eyes a moment of rest. If you are in total darkness and you see purple, yellow or other coloured spots, this is a sign of serious fatigue. Rest your eyes until the spots are gone.

2) Move! Just as staring is the way to make the image slowly but surely fade, so moving (the eye) keeps everything sharp. So park your laptop in front of a window with a (preferably panoramic) view and consciously enjoy this regularly: follow a person, animal or object present in that view. If you are in a train, you can try to focus your attention on a point on the horizon. If you are reading a book, you can try to follow the lines of one letter. The finer you can make the movements of your eyes, the sharper the perception.

3) Improve your memory! Memory is the basis of all seeing. The eye is no more than a transmitting channel. For example, by comparing old observations with recent ones, we do not see a green spot but a tree, or not a tree but an oak. An example of a memory exercise is: First close your eyes and then open them only for a split second. Now describe what you have seen, check what you may have forgotten and realise how much you can see in a split second. Keep making the exercise more difficult.