“Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic”. (Keith Haring)

I am Maykel Schoonus and I live in Nijmegen. After the Art Academy, where I studied two dimensional autonomous art, I went tot the Leiden University to study modern and contemporary art. I wrotemy bachelor thesis on the rise and fall of East Village New York during the 1980s. Almost out of nothing a vibrant art world rose in the early 80s and faded again at the end of that decade. Important artists from this era were Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Jean Michel Basquiat. After this research I started my master thesis on religious themes in the work of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. Both artists were icons of the godless nightlife of New York and also very religious persons. This juxtaposition fascinated me and turned out to be excellent research material.

It is not very surprising to say that my work has been greatly influenced by Pop Art and Street Art of New York. I adapted the cartoonesque style of Haring and Scharf and the popular imagery of Warhol and mixed it with the dualities I had discovered in art history. During my study I also discovered art philosophy and more specific the work of Roland Barthes. In 1957 he published his book Mythologies, in which he analyses every day imagery and products, such as the Citroen DS. In advertising this car is not only shown as a fast way of transportation, like other cars, but also as a godlike and cosy place. The first meaning, the denotation (a Citroen is a car) is linked with a second meaning, a connotation (a Citroen is a divine and domestic place). When you pronounce DS in French you say the French word déesse, meaning divine. With this analysis Barthes shows cultural expressions have hidden meanings and they can be uncovered by structural analysis.

And then I discovered Banksy.

Banksy is an English graffiti artist who has influenced me in a great way. A recurring theme in his work is the subtle changing of existing art through which the artwork radically changes of identity. You can find Roland Barthes in here also. What I learned from Banksy, is working with stencils. Where Banksy uses two layers most of the time (black and white), I add two or three extra layersgray into the mix, making it a more photographic piece. Because I don’t work in the streets I have more time to create my pieces.

I create my stencils myself and dissect the different layers to handcut them in cartboard. Then I spraypaint them almost always on a monochrome background. I do paint and draw as well nowadays. The subjects I choose als often people with realia. They tell a story, my story, on a denotative and connotative level and invite you, the viewer, to construct a story yourself. The titles of the works refer to songs I listen to.

Most of the time I work autonomously, but I a open to commissions. In the past I exhibited in Museum De Pont (Tilburg), the Beurs van Berlage (Amsterdam) and several art galleries like The Art Store in Bruges and the KuBra Art Gallery in ’s-Hertogenbosch. Some of my work is in private collections, like the collection of American video artist Bill Viola. For questions, more information or if you’d like to muy one of my artworks, contact me at info@maykelschoonus.nl

“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish... but that's only if it's done properly.”  (Banksy)

“I laugh at the way some people think graffiti is all selfish tagging and vandalism. Thoughtful street art is like good fiction – it speaks out on behalf of everyone, for us all to see.” (Carla H. Krueger)

“Isn't life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?” (Andy Warhol)