How to introduce Bas Aarts? A self proclaimed “Artiste des Plantes” which is definitely true. He’s on a mission to beautify the city and land with a touch of his dark green thumbs. He's a faneur first class; dressed in silks, linen and merino wool while he parades the streets of Amsterdam with his Irish terrier Fadil. With his roots deeply embedded in Limburg (a Southern province of The Netherlands) he knows how to delight in “Bourgondisch Leven”, the great art of dining and living the good life, good.
Perhaps his hands can tell his story best; they are strong, a little weathered and perhaps a trace of dirt under a fingernail, but always royally crowned by his multitude of golden rings.
What is your biggest, most unrealistic dream that you will absolutely manifest?
To revive The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
What kind of work fills your days?
I mostly fill my days with fantasizing. I fantasize about how I would give shape to a space by the use of plants. On how to place them on a pedestal where they become an object, a living object.
Was there a specific moment when you knew you were going to do life your own way?
For long I flowed with the current of others. I did it with my own principles and ideas but not with my true passion. When I came to be without a job due to covid I gathered it was time anyway to start to shape my life to my own desire, with a truly loyal dog as my companion.
When you’re feeling blue, which film will you watch to soothe your soul?
The Blue Lagoon, The Great Gatsby. My heart gets caressed by an abundance of romance. There is Leonardo, welcoming his mistress in a house full of freshly cut flowers.
When do you feel most attractive? How did you get into that state?
A good hair day. This can absolutely make my day...or break it. I especially must not cut my own hair,
no antics. Most of all just a good hairdresser to tame my curls. And a good product, naturally.
What is your favourite colour, why?
To pick one colour is nearly impossible. I like citrus colours for fruits but feel no need to wear yellow pants or an orange shirt. Overall, I stick with earthy tones. Sandy colours for clothes and interior, pastels for flowers and I would definitely enjoy a vanilla sky.
What is your favourite tree, why?
My tree knowledge isn’t as widespread to make a sound decision so for now I’ll say: the cork oak. A colossal tree with capricious shapes and faded leaves. Acorns with a funny little hat and damping bark. All the nature that I didn’t grow up with in the Netherlands.
What is your favourite mythological animal, why?
Good questions, yet difficult. My first answer would be Mermaid/man. Elegant, graceful, wavy hair.. Sereen. My second answer would be the centaur. Strong, fast, cool.. Two opposites but both are sexy.
What is your madeleine de Proust? Is this also your favorite scent? If not, what is?
Fresh burnt coffee beans. In a little street, somewhere in Maastricht there is a shop named Blanche Dael that burns her own coffee. On a cold and dark day I see myself flaner through the city on my mother's hand. It feels safe and familiar. Although, back then I didn’t really enjoy the smell but it still gives me that warm feeling of my mother’s hand, looking at coffee- and teapots that were displayed in the window. Every time my mother comes over I wish for Blanche Dael coffee.
What kind of routine do you follow when you wish to add some magic to your life?
I’m rather kind to myself in my day to day life. Apart from the high expectations/standards I have for myself (my principles and perfectionism) I grant myself moments of indulgence. Many of them are based on scent. My home smells of Lauries from the Giardini di Boboli, I smell of mimosa, my room of woods and I shower myself in hamamelis. Good food is obviously also part of these delicious moments. After a museum visit I’ll go to Van Dobben for one of their famous sandwiches ‘halfom’ or have an apricot croissant at Pompadour on Saturdays. I treat myself to fresh flowers and I always take an extra little plant whenever I go to the nursery. Whenever the dog needs a long walk, I’ll go to the Haarlemmerdijk and finish with a cup of coffee and a pastel de nata. Fuet, cheese, bread, butter..butter..butter.. I mean, I can keep going.
Tell me something you’ve learned from your favourite book.
I read too little. Usually I choose something else over reading. Too bad because I have many beautiful classics. I’d love to say my favourite book is Lolita, but I haven’t finished it yet so that would be a bit like cheating.
Enfin, the book that helped me most is The Brothers Lionheart. I find death terrifying, still. Back in the days, when I was a child, this resulted in crying, sleepless nights and desperate parents. Eventurally even a visit by the pastor. Nothing helped, nothing was able to appease my thoughts. Then, my aunt gave me this book and finally I could fantasize about a world beyond death. Even now, at night, when I wake up in a panic this story helps me to fall asleep once more.
Name an song for the following:
Yearning - Tamino - Habibi. Ga maar lekker luisteren.
Just go and listen.
Sunday, Aarts residence. The curtains are wide open, everyone is free, the volume is high.
This is impossible to choose! But The Velvet Underground - Oh Sweet Nuthin’ is one with a good electric guitar. Lana’s - Norman Fucking Rockwell is also a splendid on road album.
What dish makes you feel nostalgic?
Onion soup, French style. My mother makes the very best. Heaps of unions, heaps of cheese.
Which season do you prefer? Why?
Summer. Arid grass under my bare feet. Those little waves hanging above the asphalt. Warm wind, cooling down in the water, eating less, drinking more, bronzed skin, early mornings, late evenings. I love it.
What should we be doing do in:
Candles, cheese boards, games, French music, red wine. Fire in the fireplace.
Indulge in all the budding blossoms around you.
Chill down, swim, serious SPF applications , drinks on ice.. watermelon.
If you were to reincarnate, how, what or which would you like to come back as?
Glowworm. In a little dark cave.. Worth the YouTube search;)
What does living a good life mean to you?
To create moments. To make moments come to life.
What does stillness mean to you?
To have a space to myself, one where I can become invisible for a moment. Either in the buzzing city or secluded on the edge of the forest. It isn’t about sounds but about experiencing the peace I grant myself.
How do you slow down?
Plants give me peace. To water the roof terrace, a 2 hour job that feels like meditation. Observing them, touching them. It empties my mind. A good solid walk with Fadil also gives me this peace. Somehow my head then reorganises and I return home reborn.
Name 5 items that you own that you feel define you.
A brass bullet van Kaweco
Von Eusersdorff Parfum
Fadil & Poepzakjes
Which piece of art would you place in your sculpture garden if you had one?
An object by Igor Mitoraj. Absolutely beautiful. Melancholic, powerful and imaginative. Obviously I would like to have a statue of Bacchus or David in my garden, but Igor knows how to translate the old for the modern human being.
Imagine, we’re in an old light blue French farmhouse with deep green shutters. There is a party going one on the terrace! What does this scene look like? Please describe all the sense, what do you see, hear, smell, taste, feel?
I see people that were once dressed up but surrendered to the time of night. Clothes have been switched or taken off completely. Women and men with naked torsos, they laugh, they drink wine and cigarettes are being smoked. A decorum made of flowers that shine by the candles and moonlight. I can smell the sweetness of the alcoholic drinks, knowing this scent probably won’t get better as the evening continues. The music is in complete contrast with its guests with its deep and dark sounds.. Stimulating but dark. For a moment I distance myself, I watch from the sidelines and relish in the spectacle.