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Peter Riezebos: Dutch “Genius” Painting in Shanghai

Meet the artist bringing abstract neo-expressionism to China

Standing at an imposing 6'7", Peter Riezebos is wearing gold high-top trainers and a multi-colored blazer embellished with his own abstract artwork at his first ever museum launch in Shanghai. It comes as no surprise that this playfully dressed character describes himself as internally, "a talented child."


The exhibition, “Chinese Artifacts," is Riezebos’ first major showcase in China, open from 5-25 May at the Shanghai Duolin Museum of Modern Art. His series of abstract neo-expressionistic pieces illustrate the spirit of Chinese life and culture through a vibrant Western lens. The artist tells City Weekend: “the paintings are kind of relics …of my exploration in China…what China has done to me and what I am trying to leave here."


Netherlands-born Riezebos comes to China with a turbulent past behind him. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and depression during his childhood, he was eventually hospitalized for a full year at the age of 21. He describes himself during his youth as an educational misfit. "I was always drawing because I didn’t want to participate in school.”


The once introverted Riezebos now uses his art to express his innate creativity and perceptive intelligence. The lines he draws, he says, “are motivated by means of intentional rational longing and free emotional expressionism.” “Chinese Artifacts” renders in paint his mental and physical journey from the West to the East, informed constantly by his experience of a restless yet troubled youth, study of psychology, and his daily perceptions of the world around him.


He has now been living in China for three years, but those youthful influences are still dominant in Riezebos’ creative process. He tells us that his paintings are recreations of his childhood, “always something from my youth, or my academic past.” The works on display have a playful quality, often featuring cartoon-like images, painted with energetic strokes, bold shapes and raucous color.


Although he always paints from imagination, Riezebos admits that a lot of what is projected on his canvasses comes from visual experiences of Shanghai. “It’s definitely influenced by day to day life in China, whether it’s symbolism, whether it’s ancient techniques, whether it’s objects I perceive at museums.”


This literal approach to subject matter however, is not what is most important to Peter Riezebos.To him, he tells us, the biggest compliment is when people tell him they feel his emotions coming through the canvas. He states that he has no one specific influence, but draws from a multitude of experiences and influences. “I consider myself a global citizen," he explains. Reizebos brings this expressive internationalism to “Chinese Artifacts”, with a colourful Eastern twist. In a final comment made to City Weekend, he concedes: “Shanghai really has stolen my heart.” 


See “Chinese Artifacts” from 5-25 May at the Shanghai Duolin Museum of Modern Art.

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