Henk Pander has been painting still life since childhood. These childhood memories are the subject of the exhibition. It is rare to see a still life as large as those Pander has hanging in the Portland Art Museum (8 x20 feet) and unusual to see still lifes placed in landscape, as opposed to the traditional studio setting. In 1992 Pander experienced the loss of his mother and it may be when he began to contemplate the work for this exhibition. For a still life painter the inheritance of his parents' objects - the bread box, tobacco pipe, cups and bowls provide a poignant resource. In his piece "Lovers' Letters," much like Vermeer's scenes of domestic life, Pander's painting of a simple table with letters is rich with metaphorical content. A pink ribbon sits in the composition to represent the intimacy of the letters and the presence of his mother just as the glasses on top of the open letter suggests the presence of his father. Written in Dutch, between two lovers the letters are a prologue to Pander's own life; as the writers of these letters were his parents. Most Americans don't read Dutch, so the secrets of his parent's letters are preserved. Pander creates his work by producing installations and still lifes which he then transfers to paintings. He views most installations as theatrical stage sets without actors. The difference here is a metaphor for material (installation) to immaterial (painting.) He says "I'm a painter, I have to justify being a painter."
© Robert Peterson