There is Hope

2021, Marc Mulders in Hope

“A garden is as wide as the heavens and the earth.”

Quran 3:133

In the past an artist from the Lowlands could opt for two destinations when planning an adventurous journey of inspiration: Rome or the Orient.

Following this tradition, as a result of winning the Prix de Rome Basic Prize for painting in 1985, I made a study trip to Rome, to the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome and to the garden of Villa Borghese. It was a voyage of discovery to Caravaggio, the Neapolitan School, Baroque, and Christian iconography.
And in recent years I have been visiting the Orient, admittedly in a virtual way, but still...

It has been an inspiring acquaintance with Arabic Islamic iconography and visual culture, from Persian miniatures and Moorish gardens to the mysticism of Sufism.
The titles of my paintings (e.g. Persian Garden, Let the Desert Bloom and The Journey to Tunesia (roughly after Paul Klee) tell about this source of inspiration. I seek and find similarities between the natural lyricism and mysticism in Christianity and that of Islam, between the garden facing the West and the garden facing the East.


De Lindehoeve, on the estate Baest where I live and work, feels like a veritable Paradise to me, this Paradise being a twofold notion: on the one hand, it is the reminder of the Paradise lost and, on the other, the longing for the recovery of that Paradise. As Mary sings in Jesus Christ Superstar, “Could we start all over again?”

I’m constantly looking at depictions of Paradise in Persian miniatures and in early Christian art. With the visual memory of these gardens I talk to my brushes as I paint, telling them to behave as though they were garden tools... and I comb through the paint, delve into and clip it, and with broad brushes I make imaginary paths in this garden of oil paint.

Marc Mulders