As a child I longed for spectacles – x-ray spectacles – so that I could gaze, look all the way through the clothing, the skin of others. I found it difficult to reconcile the internal - muscles, organs, bones and blood - with the external, with what I could see on the outside; difficult to understand that people went about all day with that strange inner world of theirs without giving it a thought. There seemed to be yet another layer: the thoughts, ideas and emotions that reside within the body. Could one with a pair of x-ray spectacles perhaps discern traces of these?

After the Academy I spent a few years drawing in the anatomical collection of the of the University of Leyden. My aim was to study that inner world, the material out of which we are made. To draw is to gaze deeply, intensely, so I drew the human figure innumerable times in endless variations. I could not see the material envelope as separate from emotions like fear, longing, surrender and resistance, the impulses and emotions that have so crucial a function in life.

I still find it odd that these remain invisible in the body and have never developed into the large forms of, say, our hearts, livers or lungs. For these emotions and thoughts teach one how to interact with others, to deal (or not) with our own capabilities, with loss and the inevitable end of our being. For these existential questions and ancient impulses I search for a form. It is because of this that I draw.

Caren van Herwaarden, 2010

Translation: Lin Widmann

Look, don't Look, watercolour & pencil, 32x24.3 cm, 2007