Inspired by comics and movies, Robert Devriendt’s scenes of sequential paintings read like mini stories on canvas and Sam Dillemans goes all out in his Authors series with over 300 paintings of writers in his trademark dynamic and liquid style.
Scenes by Robert Devriendt
Robert Devriendt’s paintings are influenced by high and low culture; movies, comics, old advertisements, tv series. He constructs his mini-paintings as scenes of a story, a novella, a chapter of a book. Therefore it is important to view these in their proper sequential mode. Devriendt however foregoes on any storytelling explanations, the story is in the reader’s eyes as Devriendt only supplies the most perfunctory of visuals in close-up: a woman with a gun to her temple, a piece of a banister, a taxidermist, etc.
His use of light and shadow puts an ominous atmosphere on the oil paintings touching upon film noir and the eerie transition of day to night. In Devriendt’s paintings, everything moves just outside of the painting which can be seen as one panel in a sequence of an enigmatic story.
In Scènes though, these painted tableaux are interpreted by 16 Dutch book writers and poets. They each form their own sequential narrative of their selective series of paintings. There’s an excellent selection of authors present of whom almost all produce work in the same shimmer zone that Devriendt inhabits. The stories and poems intrigue, captivate and tread upon the dark corners of our minds that stay just out of sight of normal life.
If I have one complaint, it is that the overview of ‘scenes’ of paintings is presented at the back of the book. If would have been better if this overview would have been in the beginning in order to provide a bit more context.
Presented in a beautiful hardcover with a matte paper stock, Scènes by Robert Devriendt & various presents an outstanding coupling between literature inspired by art and whose bastard offspring will haunt you in those tiny corners of the night between waking and sleeping.
Scènes by Robert Devriendt is published by MER. Paper Kunsthalle. It is a hardcover counting 128 pages and retails for €29.50.
Authors by Sam Dillemans
If there is a man obsessed it must be Belgian painter Sam Dillemans. Driven by the spectres of Van Gogh, Picasso and Rubens, he puts an endless and renewing stream of inspiration from the old masters. The award winning documentary The Madness in the Detail follows Dillemans in his work space where he animatedly spouts his views on the art world and life in general.
Authors collects all of Dillemans’ 300 portraits of writers, composers, singers and scientists whether they are alive or not, it is all the same to Dillemans. For him, inspiration transcends the borders of life and death. From Raymond Chandler to Dostoyevski, from Nietzsche to Plato, from Wagner to Ella Fitzgerald; Dillemans is widely read and as the man himself says ‘There’s no excuse for not wanting to read.’
In his typical struggle with the material, his portraits turn out to be rough, expressive and are seemingly more concerned with capturing the essence of the person portrayed than any down-to-the-last-detail likenesses. All depends on how much the viewer wants to invest in the viewing of the painting. All were painted on the basis of photographs or busts in a very short time and in one go. He uses blank canvases, newspaper clippings, paintings found in second hand shops and even discarded carpets as backgrounds. Most of them feature a stark chiaroscuro effect punctuated with some crude colour whenever the artist feels inspired. This dramatic approach is quintessential for Dillemans whose tortured soul and dubious love (for the material)/hate (for never being able to reach their artistic heights) relationship shines through the working method. It produces brilliant and striking work.
The Authors collection of portraits is printed on quality paper as features a clean design as befits the subject matter. In order to grasp the scope of this project, there’s even a foldout of an authors’ wall with every painting numbered in order to identify the subject. Another great edition by MER. Paper Kunsthalle.
Authors by Sam Dillemans is published by MER. Paper Kunsthalle. It is a hardcover counting 222 pages and retails for €39.00.