About the artist

 

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Ste­faan was born in Niel, a for­mer vil­lage of brick­yards in the shadow of Antwerp. As a son of the painter and com­mer­cial artist Louis Eyck­mans, he comes in touch with the tools of paint­ing and draw­ing from an early age on. His father will remain his great teacher and men­tor through­out his life. Dur­ing his stu­dent days Ste­faan is strongly influ­enced by the Flem­ish Prim­i­tives, the 17th cen­tury still life painters and the Antwerp hyper­re­al­ist move­ment led by Willem Dol­phyn. Still later, the more impasto tech­nique of the Frisian Henk Hel­man­tel and the aus­tere com­po­si­tions of the Ital­ian Gior­gio Morandi leave their traces in his work.

After an edu­ca­tion as a char­ac­ter designer and illus­tra­tor Ste­faan will work in adver­tis­ing for a while. But more and more he con­cen­trates on his paint­ing. The world of fast adver­tis­ing mes­sages and dead­lines clears space for the silent world of the stu­dio, patient obser­va­tion and slow build up of time­less compositions.

In our post­mod­ern age where offi­cial acad­e­mia reject beauty as corny and muse­ums of ‘fine’ (beaux) arts get ampu­tated to muse­ums of ‘con­tem­po­rary’ art, Ste­faan res­olutely opts for beauty as an objec­tive yard­stick. By exam­in­ing the form, the con­tin­u­ous search for the essence and the best com­po­si­tion, Ste­faan tries to cre­ate another pris­tine real­ity. The paint­ings radi­ate tran­quil­lity and bal­ance. They are in the artist’s own words, ‘emer­gency exits from our stressed con­sumer soci­ety’. The tonal tech­nique of the old mas­ters in com­bi­na­tion with mod­ern mate­ri­als, colours and objects, results in a con­tem­po­rary real­ism with roots in a centuries-​old tra­di­tion of painting.

How real­is­tic and detailed they are, the still-​life paint­ings of Ste­faan arise from a tightly com­posed abstrac­tion. Already from a dis­tance the colours, shapes and sub­tle light­ing should seduce the viewer. But only on approach the paint­ings will reveal their sur­pris­ing details.

Ste­faan leads a secluded life in the French Quercy Blanc region, in a small ham­let between the vine­yards of Cahors. There he works in a con­verted barn at ‘l’Ancien Pres­bytère de Troniac’.

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