This was a year I decided I wanted to come out. Again. As an artist. Not that I never did before, of course.
But because I was always experimenting and trying new things, ideas and techniques, I retreated more and more into my studio over the years.
Don't think of an artist studio as a lonely place though. In fact, it had more of a busy souk, filled to the brink with memories, ideas and fantasy. Absolutely a place one can be really happy, being an artist, that is.
I started the year with two major pieces, each taking me more then a week to finish. To the left "Red Light District" and on the right "Sum of All Fears”. (Oil & glaze medium on canvas, 200 x 270 cm, each.) Both paintings were about living on the streets, with in the back of my mind very much the works by Goya.
I hadn't made any painting or drawing from my three year old daughter until then. Many photos, yes, but nothing more. It became a series of five paintings made one after the other in rapid succession. "Nikki-Go-Round" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 200 x 200 cm).
It wasn't easy to paint a picture of something you know and love so much. Love clouds the vision. It romanticizes the painting. I had to wait for the right moment so that I had enough distance (or at least pretended I had) to the subject to keep my vision clear. From left to right, "Garden Of Earthly Delights", "Carrying The Black Sheep" and in the back "The Duck". (Oil & glaze medium on canvas, 180 x 180 cm, each.)
And finally "The Blue Ball" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 160 x 180 cm).
"Doubles" was a series of small diptychs without size matching canvases. It's a series where I'm not using any glaze medium but instead painted the subject in oil paint on an acrylic background.
This "Doubles" series wasn't about anything specific, they were more about a feeling, about an uncomfortable daily truth, enhanced by the unconventional use of the second different sized canvas. "Unexpected Visitor" (oil & acrylic on canvas, 40 x 60 cm - 70 x 90 cm)
Like the feeling when you just turned the wrong corner. "Street View" (oil & acrylic on canvas, 38 x 46,5 cm - 38 x 55,5 cm)
Like the flight of a bird that could make you jealous for no particular reason. "Prison Yard" (oil & acrylic on canvas, 46 x 55 cm - 70 x 90 cm)
As I was saying, I wanted to come out as an artist again. Raised from the death, as it were. So I started to look around for opportunities to show my work again.
The show that came first was because I got invited for a solo show at the summer art fair at Knokke. It's been awhile that I build an exhibition myself, realizing how much I missed it. (Thank you for all the help Stijn!)
The art fair gave me 30 meters of wall space, with the special request "To go big!". Going big wasn't exactly my problem.
"Enjoy the Color Explosions by Guido Vrolix" was one way to put it, I guess.
Talking about color explosions, I did a new series of Sumi's, this time not only on pvc but also on canvas and paper.
This Sumi was very much inspired by some of the garden paintings by Matisse. "The Garden" (oil & glaze medium on pvc, 100 x 140 cm)
"Orchid" (oil & glaze medium on pvc, 100 x 140 cm)
What could symbolize (art)history more than a bloody cross. "History Painting" (oil & glaze medium on pvc, 100 x 140 cm)
A plant wasn't a monster, of course. I just gave all my plant-paintings that title because I saw plants as individuals, not as a thing. "Monster" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 70 x 90 cm)
"Monster" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 70 x 90 cm)
"Forest Fire" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 70 x 90 cm)
"Tree with Sunlight" (oil & glaze medium on paper, 50 x 70 cm)
"Legume" (oil & glaze medium on paper, 50 x 70 cm)
"After Dark" (oil & glaze medium on paper, 50 x 70 cm)
This new series of Sumi's lead straight to a show in Paris. (Although I did put a number of small fur-paintings in it as well.) Thank you Betty & Arnaud!
Setting up the exhibition "SUMI" chez Artworkers.
A small video of the evening before the opening.
That the Sumi paintings would overflow into my "regular" painting was inevitable of course. And just as with the Sumi’s, I painted a lot and discarded a lot. What was left were what you could call four or five big Sumi paintings. "Monster" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 190 x 190 cm).
"Monster" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 190 x 190 cm) &” Orange Grove" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 180 x 180 cm).
With “Monster" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 175 x 200 cm) this series ended.
It became quite a Sumi collection after a while.
Not that I only painted that year, of course. I never did. There was always more. Creativity wasn't something I could control, let alone ignore.
I made one more Last Supper, the only fur-painting that year. The photo shows some of the different stages, from the basic drawing (with water) to the monochrome color layers it takes to get the final result. "Blue Last Supper" (monochrome ultramarine blue, oil, acrylic & medium on artificial fur, 140 x 260 cm).
That year I created and build a whole new site for the playwright Arne Sierens, called "Sierens & Co".
And I set up, designed and build a print-on-demand publishing firm for the playwright Sierens & Co, named "Uitgeverij Hulot”, including creating a new logo, cover designs, text settings and the final sales on Amazon. Yep, except from writing the texts myself, I did pretty much everything.
Cover design for "Lacrima".
Cover design for "Mouchette".
Cover design for "Mijn Blackie".
Talking about publishing, I decided to make one more graphic novel that year. "Island of the Flies" (260 pages, 18,5 x 25,5 cm, b/w).
A novel which story always stuck with me since I read it the first time was "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding from 1954. (The novel he got the Nobel Prize for.) It's a dystopian adventure story about a group of schoolboys crash-landing on an uninhabited tropical island. Mostly unknown to each other and with no adults present, they have to find their own way to survive…
Remember that I started a daily cartoon-blog in February 2016 called "Our Daily Nobo”? The one about the absurdity of ordinary life and human behavior? Well, just for the fun of it, I animated some of the "Our Daily Nobo" cartoons.
In the meantime my "Walking with Gin" photography continued of course. Amazing what you can get out of looking each day with a fresh eye while walking the same path over and over again. Patience was the best photographer, I guess. "Sunset" (From the series "Walking with Gin").
"Factory" (From the series "Walking with Gin").
"Island in Ice" (From the series "Walking with Gin").
"Crows" (From the series "Walking with Gin").
"Dark Waters" (From the series "Walking with Gin").
"Bathroom View" (From the series "Walking with Gin").
I ended the year, at least painting-wise, with a couple fairly small works, just for good measure. "Boxes" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 70 x 90 cm).
"Boxes" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 70 x 90 cm).
The last painting of the year was, very appropriate, the "Red Studio" (oil & glaze medium on canvas, 70 x 90 cm).