This weekend I visited the monthly ‘Brocante’ near the Valentré bridge in Cahors. As usual monsieur Pouget and his mother were present with their collection of antique pottery. It rarely happens that I walk past their booth or visit their shop without finding anything to my liking. Philippe specializes in antique pottery of southern France. Not the cheap imitations that you can find anywhere, but unique pieces from the period such as oil jars, confit pots, pitchers that were carried on the head by housewives returning from the village well, etc. And it’s always a pleasure to talk with him and learn what pitchers were used where and what for. The large green-glazed pitcher will soon appear in one of my still life paintings …
I just finished these two still life paintings with plums. They will be the last ones of this season.
Last January I was asked by the managing editor of “International Artist Magazine” to create an article with them. Especially for this article I painted and photographed the process of “Still life with pumpkins”. The article has just been published in the August / September issue of IAM. I am extremely proud and grateful to the editors of the magazine for it has become a beautiful 10 page article and the painting even made the cover!
This year was the third edition of the open studio days of Stefaan at “‘l Ancien Presbytère de Troniac” and the busiest so far. It was a most international crowd that visited the exhibition; Belgians, French, Dutch, Irish, English, Germans, … even Australians!
Dany and I want to thank the numerous visitors and buyers. Thanks to this success a fourth edition in 2015 is ensured.
It sometimes happens that a visitor or critic calls me a photo realist. Because I do not completely agree with this, I have written an article a few years ago about my reservations. An Irish friend recently sent me some pictures of photorealistic paintings that really impressed him, mainly blow-up’s of portraits. Following this, I found and dusted off the article and now publish a brief English version of it on my weblog.
As a young artist I was very impressed by some American photo realists also. Mainly because they came from the same advertising and illustration background like me. However, as more and more I chose the path of classical realism, my reservations grew about this genre.
My main criticism is that these painters start from a picture and not a live example or model. So they already lose one dimension and a lot of information by starting from a two-dimensional image. Although enlarged, the artist blindly imitates the picture. Often he also copies the flaws of depth and reflections in the process. The painter captures emotionless and makes an exact copy … such as a camera does. Why not just enlarge the original photo?
The paintings often are huge blow-ups, a freckle is as big as a ping pong ball and the pupil of an eye the size of a football. This allows the artist to almost infinitely work on the details. If one looks at pictures of these paintings on screen or in a book, so again reduced, they seem terribly realistic.
As it is not easy to retain the correct proportions on this large scale and to precisely take over all details, these artists often use, if not always, projectors to create their drawing. To me, this feels a bit like cheating the lot.
It is not my intention here to condemn the photorealistic style. I just want to explain why I do not like that my paintings are being referred to as photorealism. Working from model often leaves a more poetic and personal approach than the hardness of a camera lens. It is classical realism, yes, but not an exact copy of reality. I want to illustrate this by the accompanying photos of both setups and paintings in my studio. In response to one of these photos a friend recently made this remark:”You hit the philosophers with despair Stefaan, the image is more beautiful than reality”!