Tovenaar is a Dutch word that translates into English as "the magician" and it can be assumed from this that the fellow in question was using a pseudonym. Little is known about this writer and conceptual artist for he kept his true identity hidden, apparently, from those who knew him. Since he is now dead it is even more difficult to find out what led him to commit suicide in Dam Square on that fateful day. All we have are the manuscripts that he left with the artist Tjepkema hours before he left this world. Tjepkema met him during one of his brief sojourns in the public madhouse and kept in contact with him up until his dramatic exit. Apparently Tovenaar had been around for he was able to speak several languages including Dutch and English both of which he spoke, if we can rely on Tjepkema, with the aplomb of a native speaker. Tjepkema was left with several manuscripts and a number of photos which he guards closely and now wishes to release piecemeal to the general public.

We can of course piece together the puzzle of this bizarre artist through his writings and objects but only in part. Tovenaar introduced so many riddles and enigmas into his works that it will keep the critics guessing for years to come. Some things are however fairly clear. Tovenaar was a poor man and a heavy drug user. He also spent some time in psychiatric hospitals probably due to exhaustion for he tended to be a workaholic. While Tjepkema will not say just how many manuscripts he was given, he does assure us that the collection is "vast." The age at which he took his life is also up for speculation in spite of the fact that he introduced a likely fugue into his final work which suggested that the writer of the tale, and by extension himself, was the age of 33 at the time. It is however clear that he was young at the time and that he had lived a difficult life on the edges of society with criminals, drug addicts and subversive thinkers and artists. It is also evident that this man was well read for there are many literary, philosophical and historical references in his work.

Tovenaar borrowed from many genres in his writing and nowhere is this more evident than in his final work, which is a masterful blend of traditional styles and literary experiment. Stepping into Tovenaar's imagination one becomes a young child and the wise old man playing with that young child. Taking the premise of Alice in Wonderland to heart, Tovenaar pushed the boundaries of his life and art and it was likely this obsession that led him to put a syringe full to the hilt with 10 times the fatal dosage of heroin into his arm and pull the proverbial trigger while sitting cross legged in the middle of Dam Square, Amsterdam in the year 2000. Despite this seemingly tragic end his writing is very positive and life affirming and therein lies the paradox of his exit. Why would a seemingly happy individual take his own life? Tovenaar was similar to Henry Miller in that he welcomed, even looked for, painful situations in a test to reject the pain of suffering and celebrate his bohemian existence. He is constantly looking for t he circus he is already in, suffering in paradise. His death can thus be seen as the ultimate release from this cycle.

Indeed the writings offer an often mesmerizing and beguiling portrait of a man living on the edge and straddling the tightrope between reality and dream. If we can believe the tales, Tovenaar walked in a strange world peopled with bizarre characters. The police too have been unable to come up with the identification of this figure but the death was ruled as suicide and the case was closed.

It is Tjepkema now who controls this man's art. He has offered three works to Cirkusworld Productions.One of these books is Tovenaar’s final novel called "Dreaming Myself To Death" which was found on his person when he died in the performance art piece in Amsterdam. "Kaleidoscope Turning" is the second work and is a collection of poetry written over the period of at least a decade. Finally, there is "Adventures of an Absurdist" which was written before the turn of the millennium.  In addition to these works of literature, CWP is making available a photo document of a profound work Tovenaar made in a Dutch slum and which he further documented in "Dreaming Myself to Death" called "Hell (w)hole" that appears to be not only multi genre and mixed media but perhaps even inter-dimensional...

Dreaming Myself To Death
(a novel)
Hell (w)hole
(mixed media art)
Adventures Of An Absurdist
(a novel)

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