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Unsold Paintings

Ballad of supply and demand

The paintings and works on paper by Jacqueline Peeters were born out of annoyance about the lack of attention for her work and about her lack of ability to change this situation.

An artist without an audience has to shout, come up with promotional texts, make plans for exhibitions, invite the right people. Peeters fantasises that she has an exhibition, with all the things that come with it, including invitations, posters, price lists, interviews, etc.

Initially, the titles of her works were written modestly on the back of the canvas, later they are written on loose strips of paper or linen, hung next to the painting. Eventually, the strips with text move to the wall behind her work table, where they continue to remind the artist of the accompanying images, but also form a framework from which new steps can be taken. 


L’Atelier du peintre

However, the paintings keep piling up in her studio, with only a few people taking note of them. The artist then realises that creating new images is a pointless effort. She decides to paint all the titles of the paintings she made so far over older or failed works. Thus a new image is created with a new title: that of the underlying painting. This title can be added to the next work with collected titles. Apart from the titles she also provides information about the size, date, technique, or price of the work.

In the painting PVB ININS SOTAF, the image of an antique wooden chair has become largely invisible due to the white horizontal stripes with text painted over it in a matter-of-fact way. Some stripes are left empty, as if new titles can be added or as if they concern missing or forgotten paintings.

In the painting QUADRATL, the underlying image has been completely painted over and replaced by a check pattern on which the titles of paintings are written, including their prices in Dutch guilders and Belgian francs. Peeters recapitulates her old themes and seems to persuade people to become acquainted with her paintings and even to purchase one. Peeters advertises!



Using the titles of her older and new works, Peeters makes her own exhibition within the painting. She also adds objects that she had hung between the titles on the wall above her desk: a piece of rope, a pack of band-aids, a drawing from 1992, a dried banana peel, a piece of paper with the text "Today I painted the whole world". The drawing from 1992 has never been exhibited, the poem written on the dried banana peel has become illegible. The text "Today I painted the whole world" shows the euphoria of an artist who, with simple means, seems to have gotten a grip of the world. It refers to earlier works entitled THE WHOLE WORLD, depicting round shapes with the name of a continent.

Peeters discloses the state of affairs, Peeters pats herself on the back by organising a retrospective exhibition of her own work, with the artist herself as the sole spectator. It is the work of an artist who has had enough of being a maker of unsaleable goods!

Madame de Parme

The painting VICTORIE KRAAIT/Victory is an explicit invitation to everyone to get to know the artist; the person and the work. It is a painting with broad white and bright yellow bands. At the top is the text:

                     Madame de Parme

                         invites you all

                           for a dinner

                           of pea soup

                          and pancakes

                          just follow me

                           don't stamp

                           on the stairs

                      she has sensitive ears


It is an optimistic work. Peeters invites people to come and have dinner with her and to look at her work. Boldly she pins pieces of paper on the white and yellow canvas. These no longer contain the titles of her works but only numbers: unsold painting no.34, oil on canvas, 1996, etc. She pretends to be a celebrated artist (victory is near) who allows the audience to visit her on her terms (don’t stamp on the stairs) and tries to seduce them into buying a work. Just like in auction catalogues, Peeters provides details such as “slightly faded colours”, “signed on the reverse”, etc. And like other celebrities, she chooses a pseudonym: Madame de Parme.

Peeters comes to the conclusion that it does not really matter what her paintings look like (a hermit does not wear his best suit either) and, on the eve of the Ajax-Juventus game, she paints a black-and-white checked flag and in the top right corner she pins five dried banana peels. In the lower right corner it says in bold characters: unsold painting No. 53, 1996, oil on canvas + 5 dried banana peels. A flag of victory or mourning?  

Peeters is not an embittered and frustrated artist. In a series of drawings - designs for invitations to exhibitions at fictitious galleries - the artist shows a great sense of humour and perspective. She makes photocopies of these drawings and sends them to friends and people in the art world. Her galleries have fancy names such as James Bonaventura, Emile Guzman, G. F. Hechtler, etc. and are located in major cities in Europe and the US.

Madame de Parme plays a game with the (art) world, and the world is playing along.


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