In ‘The emptiness in the centre of our system’ we see an office worker staring at his screen, keyboard in front of him. Encircling his head is his daily grind. He comes out of bed, walks the dog, goes to work, comes home, does some chores, watches telly, drinks a beer, goes to bed, ditto. This is his daily system. Surrounding his head – that is empty; no paint, no gesso, only blank canvas – is an halo; over ninety per cent of the Western population spends their working life following this system, and therefore it is some kind of sacred. On his left the office worker has post-its with day-to-day tasks and reminders like “HYPERDEPIEP JP 32 jaar!” and “Rundersaté in de aanbieding (Beef satay on sale)”. On his right are post-its with thoughts that are trying to trivialize his daily system of which he cannot escape.
Boxem was inspired by a quote of the English poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake. “Blake accepted most of the Enlightenments way of thinking, and supported their demand of tolerance and social justice, and acclaimed revolutions in America and France, but like other Romantics Blake believed that the thinkers of the Enlightenment failed to answer a number of essential questions, creating an emptiness in the centre of our system”*. The painting implies that these questions still remain unanswered, and that the contradiction; of spending most of the time of our life on the growth of a society that does not provide us of essential meaning, is still valid.
* ‘A World History of Art’ by Honour & Fleming. Laurence King Publishing. 1999. Hardcover. 984 pages.
‘The Emptiness in the Centre of our System’. 2009. Acryl and oil on canvas. 1,5 by 1,5 m (59,1 by 59,1 inch).