Tina Vanbiervliet, a ferocious painter and artist. We lived together for 7 years, but it was already 10 years ago that we departed our ways. I heard the news only yesterday. She was found days after being dead. In her small apartment covered with paintings. Murals on every wall including the ceiling. Her dog next to her. She took her own life.
As word spread around, old friends emerged. Familiar friends from what seemed to be a past life. All of us were part of the same group, once. But as time went by, all of us gathered new groups of friends. We dived into new worlds, got new lovers, new lives… All of us, except her apparently. She went on with what she gathered up to that point. Painting. Trying to stay sane. Keeping some of her wits in a mind that was at times haunted. As she stayed, we were all drifting further away from her.
Her creative idol was Van Gogh. We would go to the Kröller-Müller museum and bike like crazy to get to the central museum amidst the wide woods to see the small Van Gogh paintings so full of pigment that the colors would blast into our faces. Or visiting the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, listening to the audio tape and suddenly realizing that his life felt so very familiar? The diaries of Van Gogh bore a remarkable resemblance with your writing Tina. Each paragraph read like a painting, filled with emotion and life cut down to its core.
Life seemed easy back then. We did not have to think about ‘doing the correct thing’, for all of us were living outside of normality anyway. We could do whatever came into our minds… and at times pay the consequences. What about making a movie with us walking through a supermarket wearing a paper bag on our head? An anti-capitalist statement on consuming! It seemed a great idea, until the supermarket owner pushed us out never to come again, thinking we wanted to rob his supermarket… That silly bloke, stopping you in expressing your creative mind!!! Your mind. It was always your mind. I have never heard of anyone getting a master based on 4 pages of thesis… but you could do that. Poring meaningful art in every sentence, linking facts and emotion in such creative, imaginative splendor… Let’s pick up all our gear at just a month’s notice, heading off to another city, thinking the academy would be better there and artistic life would take off for sure from there. Or what about smuggling in cats where it was not appreciated. Those short minded animal haters!!! Or at 11 pm driving through a MacDo drive in with a motorcycle twenty times around before placing an order and realizing they had shut down the counter afraid of … yes, a robbery. Those wimps!!! We only wanted some fish burgers to accompany the end of a great day out in the open! So you set up exhibitions in run down areas, lived in East Germany in a occupied building, you reenacted movies and series, making endless self-portraits... and all the while giving all of us, your extra’s in all those objects d’arts, a fun time.
From all of your idols Tina, I loved Cindy Sherman the most. This personal passion led to numerous paintings, movies and photographs on the subject of gender fluidity. Great fun for all of us. Tina, you could come up with things none of us could, none of us would. You could make friends with everyone. Such a kind heart and non-judgmental. You longed for love, and all I could think of was that you would find it. Love has so many different faces, so for sure you would find it. But you did not. Your dearest one was Fluffy, your loyal dog.
It is strange how the pain is physically apparent. How my breathing has slowed down to half its pace since I heard the news. How tears keep coming although everything seems to come from a past life. But it never became a past life for you Tina, or at least, that is how it feels right here, right now. You deserved more: more love, more recognition, more support.
Tina I wish I could have held you in your last moments, hold you close to my heart. I understand that the end was probably inevitable, but than at least, I could tell you that you have made a difference. You gave such joy. Your heart and kindness were touching the lives of so many people. Tina your life was worth living. The mere act of painting was enough, is enough. In fact creating is much more than most of us are capable of, much more noble, much more human than anything. No other life on earth is capable of art for art’s sake, you did it moment after moment. You were the most human person around. I miss you.
Please, I beg and pray to everything in nature, in the skies, in all of the universes to let your soul find a good afterlife, befitting your beauty and love.