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Viral Dutch artist paints 10 pictures at once

By AFP

May 8, 2024 04:10 PM


Representational image

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Two paintbrushes between the toes, two in her hands, and fierce concentration etched on her face, Dutch artist Rajacenna van Dam is crafting 10 paintings at the same time.

An astronaut, a self-portrait, a bespectacled panda and seven other pictures burst into life from her brush, painted on 10 canvasses laid out on a table, upside-down on the floor, and two easels.

It started as a party trick for the curly-haired Rajacenna -- her artist name -- who wanted a challenge to relieve her boredom.

But it has since become a profession that has shot her to viral fame, with every paint stroke worked out in advance in her head before setting to work with hands -- and feet.

"I work a bit on one canvas, then move to another one, so I'm always dividing my attention between them," said Rajacenna, who is technically left-handed.

"Five years ago, I started painting with both hands, as a bit of a challenge and to go quicker. I discovered I was ambidextrous," the 31-year-old artist told AFP.

Then a journalist asked her as a joke whether she could also use her feet as well. Challenge accepted.

Starting out "for fun" and after a few mishaps with sticky tape between her toes, she tried using plasticine to keep the brush between her toes.

It was a success and she posted a video of her exploits online, quickly becoming a viral hit. Orders flooded in.

She is so skilled that only she can tell the difference between paintings crafted with her hands and those with her feet.

"I can really see a big difference. It's a bit less precise," she said, performing her skills at a museum in Vlaardingen, her home town in the south of the Netherlands.

- 'Very special' -

Rajacenna has loved drawing since she was a small child. After a short adolescent dip in interest, her passion was rekindled by an Italian street artist.

Today her videos on social media attract millions of views, especially when she paints 10 canvasses at a time with her hands and feet.

"I get bored quite quickly, so I like to challenge myself. Doing all this at the same time gives me a sort of feeling of meditation, which calms me a lot," she told AFP.

To her knowledge, she is the only person capable of such a feat.

"But I hope that people will be inspired to do more things, to challenge themselves a bit more, to do things like paint with their feet," she said.

Her paintings sell for between 6,000 and 12,000 euros ($6,450 to $12,900), according to her father Jaco van Dam.

"It's also very special for us as parents. She surprises us too and I don't know either how she manages to do it," he told AFP.

But a study on her brain by a Turkish-German neurologist Onur Gunturkun provides a clue, he added.

"A brain scan showed that the left and right sides of her brain are three times more connected than average," he said.

Neurologist Gunturkun has said Rajacenna was "capable of things that neuroscience deems impossible".

In a nod to Albert Einstein, whose brain was famously removed after his death, a painting of the scientist by Rajacenna hangs on the wall of the museum.

Rajacenna has attracted some famous admirers, notably pop star Justin Bieber, who described her work as "amazing" when she presented him with a portrait of himself.

It certainly impressed a couple of pensioners watching her at the museum.

"It's extraordinary that someone can do that," said Anton van Weelden, 75.

"What's more, the paintings are very beautiful and realistic," said Van Weelden, who said he would never dare try something like that.

"I couldn't even paint like that with my right hand," he joked.


AFP


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