domingo, 11 de septiembre de 2016


Poen de Wijs

Poen de Wijs (Dutch artist) 1948 –
Bandoneón, 2007
acrylic on canvas
100 X 100 cm.
private collection

The woman on this painting is the Dutch musician Jaqueline Edeling. To see and hear her playing, where you can also see the difference between the concertina and the bandoneón.

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The bandoneón is a type of concertina particularly popular in Argentina, Uruguay and Lithuania. It is an essential instrument in most tango ensembles from the traditional orquesta típicas of the 1910s onwards and in folk music ensembles of Lithuania. The bandoneón, so named by the German instrument dealer, Heinrich Band (1821–1860), was originally intended as an instrument for religious music and the popular music of the day, in contrast to its predecessor, the German concertina (or Konzertina), considered to be a folk instrument by some modern authors. German sailors and Italian seasonal workers and emigrants brought the instrument with them to Argentina in the late 19th century, where it was incorporated into the local music, such as tango.

Like concertinas, the bandoneón is played by holding the instrument between both hands and either pushing in or pulling out the instrument while simultaneously pressing one or more buttons with the fingers. It is considered part of the concertina family of instruments rather than the accordion family, although both are free reed instruments. In the concertina family the direction of button movement is parallel with the direction of bellows movement, whereas in the accordion family the direction of button or key movement is perpendicular to the bellows movement.
Unlike the piano accordion, the bandoneón does not have keys like the piano, but has buttons on both sides. Additionally the notes produced on push and pull are different (bisonoric) which means that each keyboard has actually two layouts: one for the opening notes, and one for the closing notes. Since the right and left hand layouts are also different, this adds up to four different keyboard layouts that must be learned in order to play the instrument. However, there is the advantage that the notes tend to progress from the bass clef on the left hand to above the treble clef on the right. To make matters even more confusing, there are bandoneóns that are monosonoric (same note on push and pull), variants which are more compatible with a chromatic tuning structure.
None of these keyboard layouts is structured to facilitate playing scale passages of notes. Instead the structure is designed to aid the playing of chords, which makes sense when one considers the origin of the instrument and its intended purpose. For a learner, certain runs and musical forms can be difficult, but to an experienced player they come quite naturally.
With its arrival in Argentina around 1870, the bandoneón was adopted by those wishing to incorporate it into the Milonga music of that time (which requires a very fast player indeed). The style that sprang from Milonga is modern tango music.

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Poen de Wijs was born in the town of Nijmegen, in the east of The Netherlands. As an introvert boy he liked to withdraw with his recorder, studying baroque music for many hours a day. During secondary school he already started at the Conservatory of Tilburg. His childhood sweetheart Margriet, with whom he was to marry soon, started studying flute, while Poen discovered that he actually liked drawing more than the recorder. To his surprise (and of his parents) he was attended to the Royal Academy of Visual Arts in The Hague. There he felt at home and found his destination. But music never left his life. Although drawing had becoming his passion, he still liked playing along with his wife or with other musicians. During his studies he lived among music students, and when in 1971 he bought a large, fourteen-room dilapidated house, the rooms were soon to be filled with musicians. All day long the house was a cacophony of sounds, while Poen was working in his attic studio (the place where he still works).

The first years of his career he worked very abstract, and from 1977 he started to paint more realistic. This is also the year that the musical group Flairck formed in his house, and soon gained a big succes in the Netherlands. One of Poen’s first realistic watercolours was chosen by the band for the vinyl cover, under protest of the record company. Many lp’s and covers were to follow.

In his earlier period Poen combined nudes with abstract elements. Later he combined images from art history with contemporary subjects. Since the 1990s he has interwoven the theme of cultural integration into almost all his works. Poen likes to paint the people of today, young and old, men and women of all races and cultures. He surrounds them with animals, with musical instruments, with still lifes, with decorative patterns, with structures, in a virtuoso game and with brilliant technique.

To see more of Poen's work, have a look at his website here:

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