Surfing Painter Peter de Boer | An International Breakthrough
We share the same love for the ocean. She brings us together, connects us in a way nothing else can, and was the start of our friendship some years ago. Our daily lives are both influenced by surfing, nature, and the need to feel happy in the water. For Peter de Boer however, surfing also plays a big part in his artwork. It’s this art that I want to share with you, because I fell in love with it, and I’m not the only one.
I got to know Peter on one of my most fun surf trips ever. During this trip to France and Spain we we’re all part of the same ‘surf family’, and we’ve been on numerous trips since. Peter has a classic longboard stance, which I recognise from miles away. He’s also a family man and loves to surf with his wife and two children. But what I really want to share with you guys, is Peter’s art, and a little bit more about the man and surfer behind the art.
Who’s Peter de Boer the surfer?
Peter (37) is from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and is primarily a painter, but also teaches art on a high school. It’s through teaching that he first discovered surfing on a school surf trip to Brittany. “I fell in love immediately, and a couple of weeks later I was going down the line for the first time in the North of Spain. I was stoked!” Pretty soon after, Peter got his own board, wetsuit, and Wijk aan Zee became his home spot. “Summer or winter, I don’t care, just as long as I can be in the water. I have always felt a connection to the water. As a child I grew up around the beaches of Den Helder in the North of the Netherlands. There were no surfers at the time, so I stuck to swimming and skimboarding.”
“I think longboarding best suits my style, but I also have a curiosity for shortboards. The birth of my son is a massive enrichment in my life, but I don’t get as much time in the water. However, I get to go on plenty of surf trips with friends and family. My desire for the ocean can be seen in my paintings like my ‘To the Sea’ series, and I love to approach surfing from an artistic perspective.”
Who’s the artist?
Peter de Boer mostly works with egg tempera that he produces himself. This is a century old technique in which you use paint from a mix of dyes from egg, linseed oil, and turpentine. By applying several layers he creates a depth that allows you to enter his art work. Inspired by the Neo Romantic movement, and by the work of philosopher Slavoj Žižek, Peter’s paintings express the longing for a return to simplicity and nature. “Is it possible that mankind and nature live in harmony? Can we interact respectfully with our environment, or will nature strike back with catastrophes like Žižek describes? I am most conscious of the environment when I’m surfing. It’s then when I feel most connected to nature. This results in recurring elements of nature and heightened consciousness, and awareness of nature.”
Best surf spot?
“That one secret spot which I promised never to tell anyone about.”
Has surfing affected your art work?
“Sometimes, when I’m on a wave, or when I simply sit out the back, I take in the beauty of my environment. In these moments I experience pure happiness. I feel one with the ocean and the sky, I know this is where I belong. It’s this experience that I try to encapsulate with my work.”
How has your art influenced your surfing?
“I believe that everything you do in life affects everything else. So in a way, I do believe that my art influences my surfing. It would be awesome though, if I could surf as fluent as the way I paint.”
Who inspires you and why?
“My wife and children are my biggest inspiration without a doubt. They make me intensely happy, and form the base for who I am as a person. As a painter I am inspired by for example Peter Doig. It’s great to see how he transforms the visible reality into his paintings. As a surfer, I stay fascinated by Kelly Slater, who keeps developing and reinventing himself. A true icon for the surf industry.”
What project are you most stoked about at the moment?
“Oh boy, I am very stoked about this news. Recently I received an e-mail from California. A local surfer, Sean Leffers, bought two of my paintings online, and reached out to explore the possibilities for a collaboration. The idea for now is to do a massive mural, an ‘artist talk’ about my work, and maybe even build a big tree house. If all goes well, I’ll go there next fall, yeew.”
Sean Leffers is on the board of directors of the LUX Art Institute in Encinitas, California. As a surfer himself, he tries to connect modern art programs with the (local) surf scene. Among the other visiting artists is world famous explorer and photographer Chris Burkard. Get in touch with Peter de Boer for local expositions, his artwork, collaborations, and more.
Ideal surf trip?
“A surf trip with family and friends, like I’ve experienced before. Of course, I would like there to be waves, but companionship is just as important to me. As long as there’s a good vibe, and the opportunity to be in the water a couple of hours a day. Tired but satisfied in the evening, a good home cooked meal, and pleasant conversations, what else do you need?”
Do you have a message?
“I will probably never enter politics, but I have noticed that I am looking more and more consciously for ways to make a statement with my art. As a child, I was impressed by Greenpeace. I am concerned about the faith of nature and especially animals. My grandfather always let me watch wildlife documentaries when I visited him. I watched polar bears, elephants, and other animals. Now, in my adult life, I try to do good, but I still use a lot of plastic and waste energy. Here lies a challenge, and a personal mission. I want to leave the world a better place for our children.”
Peter de Boer