Another juxtaposition of elements drawn from African art and abstract, or technomorph shapes.
I relinquished the precision of drawing and designing on the Mac, although I sometimes still use Illustrator CC to create graphic work when it requires dry precision. But, for my own free stuff I just have fallen in love again with the imperfections of hand-painted, or hand-drawn lines. The way ink never quite dries evenly. Having no technology between the process that is going on in your imagination and the medium is ultimate freedom.
And, taking a few steps back, I also notice that I slowly float away from representation with each drawing or painting I make. Recognisable elements are becoming signs, or chiffres.
In the summer of 2016 I travelled with my family through the Italy from east (Le Marche) to west (Umbria). On that particular trip I preferred the company of my small sketchbook, (Hahnemühle, not Moleskine), to my camera, which only sporadically left its bag. In Le Marche we rented a wonderful historic water-mill. The villages and ‘frazione’ – small communities consisting of only a few houses – were exquisitely authentic. Only a week after we spent a wonderful week there, the area was hit by a devastating earthquake.
In Umbria tourism and recent economic prosperity has left its mark, resulting in a style of building that appeals to a certain category of people with money to spend on real estate, but a taste that was mainly formed by Italian popular TV. Expensive, no doubt, but cheap and tacky. Luckily enough there are plenty of small towns and villages that are relatively unaffected by Berlusconi-induced tastelessness. Civita di Bagnoregio is one of these very pleasant places. The small town, perched on a high rock is well-known and loved by tourists, and a visit is certainly rewarding.
From the terrace of the house we rented in the volcanic valley not far from Civita, I could see the old town, high on its weathered volcanic rock. Inspired by that enchanting view I filled my sketchbook, not by copying what I saw, but by drawing from my imagination, inspired by what I had seen moments before; sometimes floating into near abstraction, sometimes staying closer to reality.
Together these images evolved into a number of juxtaposed sketches which form the point of departure for a series of oil paintings. These are only loosely based on the reality on the ground. With the components of these sketches, supplemented by mental images of colour and atmosphere, and influenced by my background as art-historian with a predeliction for medieval and early renaissance art. The murals of Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena are among my all-time favorite works of art. Size, perspective and technical perfection are still less important than atmosphere, meaning and symbolism. In my own work the same apparent disregard for linear perspective is a recurring feature.
But in colouring and style I always draw from another rich source, which is my love for the masters of the European comic strips, or ‘bande dessinée’, in particular André Franquin, his fellow artist Jidéhem, and Edgar Pierre Jacobs.
Somewhere in between, between the serious art of Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the tongue-in-cheek virtuosity of André Franquin is another one of my heroes, Jean-Michel Folon, another Belgian artist. His simple, but evocative lines, shapes and colours, never fail to move me.
Therefore my works can never be regarded as ‘serious’. Although deep down, they are, very serious. But that is for another post.
All images are copyright by me. If you would like to use them, or want to have better copies, please contact me by leaving a comment.
A while ago I posted some images from a portfolio of French architectural drawings that I bought at an auction. Today I post the first of a series of re-illustrations based on these drawings. I re-imagined them, well, actually I am still working on the series, to be able to create a flexible series of art prints that can be reproduced digitally on high quality art paper with archival inks. Working on every detail of these images, which are lithographs, makes me appreciate the tremenous skills of the reproduction artists that created them.
Stone lithography in the 19th and early 20th century was as important to all kinds of commercial imagery as DTP and digital design is now. I once wrote a small book on the collection of sigar-box labels that were printed in the south of the Netherlands during the first half of the 20th century. There was a plethora of designs to choose from. Only a few survived as commercial brands. Lithography was the preferred medium. The artisans were creating subtle images and wonderful colours by putting tiny little dots on the lithographic stones rom the Sollnhofer quarries – by hand. They were real virtuoso’s.
These French architectural images were part of a large portfolio of housing types. From small labourer’s cottages to stately city mansions for affluent people, from hunting lodge to architect’s practice, everything was pre-imagined. Driving throug semi-rural and semi-urban areas of France, one can still encounter many of these charming buildings.
The art-print is available in Moonfrog Studio’s Etsy shop. It will be printed on high-quality paper, sent in a tube, and is available in 3 sizes:
Often when I look at architecture and architectural drawings, I have an almost synesthetic perception of music. Not a real melody, but a sense of musical rhythm, somewhere deep inside me. Of course the structure of a piece of music is often referred to as its ‘architecture’, so the association between these two arts is not really uncommon. This inspired me to create this image of an apartment building with the facade removed. The visual elements in the interior, and the structural elements of the building are like a colourful musical notation with nested patterns, repetition, and silence.