A hundred times artist Bas Kosters (44) made a drawing of pop star Michael Jackson, based on a photo his brother sent him.

"This project is about what happens when you force yourself to hold on to something - about attention."

This article is from the Volkskrant.

Every day a selection of the best articles from newspapers and magazines appears on NU.nl.

You can read more about that here.

Bas Kosters became known as a fashion designer with his colorful, playful and often erotic outfits.

His outspoken style, in combination with social engagement and lack of convention, made him a rebel within the Dutch fashion world.

Nowadays Kosters focuses on autonomous, visual work.

Through crowdfunding platform Voordekunst, he raised 19 thousand of the 28 thousand euros needed to turn Jackson's drawings into a book.

One of Michael Jackson's portraits.

One of Michael Jackson's portraits.

Photo: Bas Kosters

How did you come up with the idea to draw Michael Jackson a hundred times?

"My brother sent me a booklet with stickers from Michael Jackson in 2017. On a whim I copied the photo that was on the cover. I quickly thought: maybe I should try this a hundred times. I've never done it before - my other series are much shorter. This is also more personal than other projects, where I outsource a lot of work."

"The drawing itself went quite quickly - it was all about creating the right moment, the right mindset, the right flow. Some drawings turned out great, some are okay. I made a hundred, and left none. I think It's cool, nice that this series isn't about success."

What is the project about?

"It's about what happens when you force yourself to stick to something - about attention. And about the love for the technique of drawing. For me it was about: how do I make the drawing? Not: how do I draw Michael Jackson? could also have chosen Elvis Presley. In fact, sometimes I see Elvis in the portraits, or other famous people. So the subject is more of a metamorphosis: the play, the joy. And maybe also the uncertainty of it, because you have the identity that you can't always imagine in advance."

One of Michael Jackson's portraits.

One of Michael Jackson's portraits.

Photo: Bas Kosters

Still, the starting point remains a photo of Michael Jackson.

What does that data mean to you?

"If it had been a different photo, I might not have done it. I think my brother sent me this photo because he knows that safety and nostalgia are important to me - feelings I get from memories of the past, to my childhood. Michael Jackson is a symbol within the cultural and visual history that has shaped me. I am of the MTV generation: this is how my fascination for image, identity, visual culture and my love for fashion started."

Has that sense of security been tarnished by

Leaving Neverland

, the 2019 documentary accusing Michael Jackson of child abuse?

"His image has of course changed a lot as a result. I started looking differently at my portraits, which I had almost all finished by then. But I still support my project because I don't take a position about himself. You can't erase people. He doesn't have to, because he has also given the world a lot of good. But the situation is painful - I absolutely do not want to destroy that. Maybe that makes the project extra beautiful, that it is so controversial, but at the same time so vulnerable. was afraid to be in real life and therefore lived in a kind of fantasy world."

One of Michael Jackson's portraits.

One of Michael Jackson's portraits.

Photo: Bas Kosters

Do you recognize such a vulnerability in yourself?

"On the one hand, Michael Jackson liked to be in the spotlight, on the other hand, he did not want to be seen. By others, by himself. I recognize that. Maybe that's why I was so busy with my appearance in the past: this way I prevented people from coming close. Now I am more accessible Since 2015, when my parents died in quick succession and I stopped drinking, I come closer to myself, so that other people can too. I experience personal contact differently, I am more involved in everything. You could it an inner transformation to call."

One of Michael Jackson's portraits.

One of Michael Jackson's portraits.

Photo: Bas Kosters

Did you then shift your focus from fashion to the visual arts?

"I've always done what I wanted, from painting to making music - but everything was dominated by fashion. Until I realized: I only live this life once and I want to make what matters to me. I want taking actions that elicit a longer lasting stimulus than a fashion show. I want to step out of my comfort zone, focus more on my creative drive than everything around it. All of that has pushed me in the direction of autonomous, visual work."

"Yet in essence, little has changed. I may use different words, a different medium, but say the same things. About people and society, about emotions, about attention. About creating space for someone else. Others sometimes talk about my ability to myself to innovate, but I think that people essentially don't change. All the things that I am conscious now, I used to be, I think, unconsciously too."

Keywords: