As you can see in the text in the From the Diaries page my diaries are an important source of inspiration to me. The notes and sketches from my diaries give me ideas for my drawing and painting. This continued in 2006 when I started to work with the artists collective EX-MÊKH and the Malieveld project in which I started to work in other disciplines. To my surprise the material also became the inspiration for new work in these projects. I already published a number of instances of sources from my diaries in different contexts. Now I want to show some of the original diary-material and some of the works that thematised my diary together on one page.

Madrid Diaries, February 2022

In February 2022 I was in Madrid to take part in the Hybrid Art Fair with EX-MÊKH. The fair is a part of the Semana del Arte in the Spanish capital. Under the name Con Alma Ellen Rodenberg, Maarten Schepers and I changed a hotelroom into an art installation. Part of this installation was a diary that I wrote about the days we passed in Madrid. During this week, in which Russia started the war in Ukraine, it seemed rather surreal to be so far from home as the news seeped in. I took quotes from my diary to write with charcoal on torn pieces of white painted packing paper. It reminds me of shards of pottery which were used to write on in the Eastern Mediterranean before Christ which is why I used this technique before.

Back in my studio I decided to make a series of gouaches next to the shards. The basis is a colour that expresses the atmosphere of the day. This basis I painted is often determined by the weather. On the other hand, the feeling of the day also has an influence on the colour. By doing this I want to give a total impression of the experiences by writing text fragments in the imagery I had at hand during the day.

Brief Encounters, February 2021- June 2021

Then, after finishing the Berliner Porträte, the Corona crisis knocked on our door and people started living in isolation. Like many people I started to make walks in Den Haag and I wanted to use that for my work. During these walks there were always people who stood out for me. I heard remarks, I had associations with other people I had met or with sentiments that felt familiar. So I wrote short descriptions about it and later I made sketches in a dummy. I did some editing on the texts and wrote them next to the sketches. Later again I painted eight portraits on the basis of these sketches. These are the pages from my diary with the Brief Encounters, my Corona Portraits!

Berliner Porträte, September 2020 – January 2021

In September 2020 EX-MÊKH was invited in Berlin by A-Trans to make installations in the shop windows of the Kleist-subway station. We presented two installations under the name Femaler. During the days installing the work we made long walks in the city and I made little sketches of people that caught my eye in a little book that I always carry. At night I would describe the persons in text. Later that year I started to make larger drawings of them on the Malieveld and in January I made sketches in oilpaint and oilpastel on stone-paper. I decided to frame the Berlin portraits together with the original text-descriptions to suggest some perspective. Eventually I made a video about the whole series, including the Malieveld sketches and sent it for the Platforms Project NET 2021 teaser to be published on April 6th 2021.

The Diaries January 26, 2014, A selfportrait

Fuck Focus! was an exhibition of EX-MÊKH in Buro Rotterdam in 2014. Ellen Rodenberg, Maarten Schepers and Kees Koomen showed their work there in January. For the finissage they invited guests to do performances: next to Kees Koomen, whose performance (with the help of Maarten Schepers) is shown in this video, they invited Frans van Lent and Topp & Dubio.

In the performance Kees sat down on a chair and he wrote down what caught his eye on stickers. Maarten Schepers put the stickers on his face which eventually resulted in a mask. The mask was a self-portrait in reflections of the situation around him in text. The action handled about contextuality, the interaction of the artist/artwork with it’s surroundings. A day in the life of an artist.

Kees Koomen: The Diaries January 26, 2014, A selfportrait
chmkoome/keeskoomen 2012

Since 2004 I run an artblog, chmkoome’s blog, . I started it because I followed Dutch blogs like Hinke Schreuders Suds & Soda (notes on art) of Marcel van Eeden’s tekenblog and Cioran 63 (not on-line anymore). Later also trendbeheer became important and interested me. Marcel van Eeden’s Cioran 63 seemed a kind of scrapbook to me in which he put all kinds of stuff that he thought interesting and which he researched. His blog was also a kind of diary with things that influenced his work as he told me at the time. I used to do so in paper sketchbooks and albums with text, pictures, postcards drawings etc. Because of the digital influence I started to think about my own blog I started posting daily. The first posts were very personal and general, but in two years the posts concentrated on art and culture solely. In the course of time a following developed and I followed a number of artists that I liked. It resulted in an invitation to participate in the Kunstvlaai in 2012. This is an art-fair for non-commercial artist collectives and independent platforms in Amsterdam.

As I post daily on my blog I decided to write a diary-entry each day, with charcoal on an A4 sheet of paper. Next to that I curated a group show with artists that I follow and admire. I put each diary-page on the wall of the group-exhibition at the end of the day. The result of it was that the exhibition was an analogical website: the artists I followed were shown and my daily posts also appeared in the exhibition. The texts were a mix of personal remarks and of descriptions of things I did and observed. I liked the diary pages a lot: they were like minimalistic drawings. What they lacked in semantics was made up for by the esthetic value of the drawing.

Videodiaries: Two weeks in march 2010
Journal Provençal 2008

In 2008 I received a grant to do research on the use of video for my work. I stayed in a small village in Vaucluse for two months. The weather was bad, as soon as I had set up my equipment it started to rain and it was only at the end that I started a larger project about Mont Ventoux which was in the vicinity. About this you can find more later on the video page I am still contemplating on.
I did make a diary about my stay there. Unfortunate things happened at home and some drawings are about that, some are about my work about which I wrote lot too. The books I read were an inspiration and of course nature is incredible. These are the drawings, I cut away the text as much as possible.

Jerusalem Diaries 1997

In 1997 my wife attended a congres in Jerusalem and I went with her. During daytime, when she would be present at lectures and discussions on ancient languages, I made long walks in the city. I walked along the ancient wall and visited some of the gates of Jerusalem. The thing that most impressed me was life in Eastern-Jerusalem. In the Israeli part of the city I found it looked like the US, the west coast. The eastern part of the old city gave me the sensation much more that I could experience life in the middle east. I made a series of drawings in my sketchbook. I thought it might be interesting to publish some from my 1997 sketchbook here. Now I am looking forward to another visit to Israel.

The text on the first sketch says:
This sketching book starts in Jerusalem on August 5, 1997.
It concerns only some small details that I noticed, that entered my eye and it mingles with what is already there.
The choice of subjects is probably decided by what preceded our journey.
I saw the eye in an advert in East Jerusalem, a nice start for a series of sketches.

Seventeen Days in France – 1994

In september 1994 Maurits van de laar Gallery organised a show with artists of the gallery to start the season. He asked me to participate and I wondered what to show after having shown a lot of work before. However, during my holidays in the South of France I made daily drawings in charcoal. I liked them as a serie and Maurits agreed to show them. After framing the seventeen drawings I put them on the wall as a cloud which would, like holiday memories, fade away. It was the first time I had worked daily and also the first time that I showed them under the title Seventeen days in France .

Mexico 1984

After having finished art school in Den Haag in 1981 I studied more academic subjects in the USA in 1981-1982. Coming back I had to start working on my art which was difficult in the beginning. I retreated to the village I grew up in, rather isolated from the art world, and I took time there to think about how I wanted to continue. After two years I got the opportunity to go back to Den Haag. There was a fire station down town which was in use as a building with artists studios. One of the studios was empty and I had the possibility to rent it and start living there. Some old friends of mine were living in the other studios which made it a stimulating environment for my ambitions. After some time we decided that we needed more inspiration. The idea came up to go and work in Mexico for some time. A mix of Spanish colonialism, catholic culture and the indigenous history and culture appealed to us. Being raised a catholic I looked forward to the most extreme phenomena I heard about. The trip was organised for an undetermined period (depending on the money) and we departed for New York where we would meet a friend residing in PS1. One of my companions was coming with me to Boston where we were invited to give a lecture to students of Boston University, we could stay there for a week. Thus the first three weeks were spent in The USA. The next pictures are from my USA diary.

When we crossed the border from San Diego in California to Tijuana to Mexico we had travelled through the southern states of the USA by Greyhound. In Mexico we continued through Ensenada to Mexico D.F. There, one of our companions was struck by a strange condition which made him and his girlfriend decide to return home. The remaining friend and me continued our trip in an overwhelming country. Eventually we decided not to stay as long as we had planned and after two months we travelled back to San Francisco where we both studied three years earlier. I finished the writing in my diary until the last day in New York, but I stopped making sketches and watercolours when we went back to the States. The whole trip had given me a load of inspiration of which I benefited for years. One of the sentiments that grew in me however was that I wondered about how little I knew from my European background. I saw the colonial Spanish heritage which I admired and I realised I had never been in Spain. In San Francisco my teacher Michael McClure already impressed me by reciting poems by Garcia Lorca by heart which made me want to study Spanish. In preparation for this trip I started seriously to learn to communicate in Spanish from a dear Nicaraguan friend from whom I took the local accent according to the Mexicans I met. So I decided to turn my focus to Europe, the Mediterranean culture and Spain in particular. This does not mean Mexico did not make a lasting impression as you can see in the following illustrations from my diary.