Pepe Magazine – Interview

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interview christel hemelrijck pepe

How did you approach the art world?

One day I just decided to start painting, went out to buy supplies and tried to find my way. I developed my own style rather quickly and I organized my first exhibition a few months later. Thanks to that first exhibition I was picked up by a gallery and it went really fast from there. I guess I was extremely lucky.

What were the painters that influenced you the most?

That would probably be Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Clyfford Still,…

Which contemporary painters do you identify?

It sounds a bit presumptuous to me to say that I identify with artists I admire.

What I can say is that I recently discovered the work of Diego Benéitez in Madrid and I fell madly in love with his paintings. At first sight you see colour field paintings, and amazing colours I might add, but upon closer look his work is also very detailed and delicate.

How does your work develop? With a schedule routine, in a less programmed way, impulsively?

I don’t have a scheduled routine. I always have an idea in my head but never a completely finished project, it often evolves while I work on it.

I need to have some idea of where I am going since I work in different layers of oil paint,  and the first layers are still wet when I apply the next one. I need to keep my focus to avoid a muddy result.

Could you frame your work in a style, in a movement?

That would be abstract expressionism, colour field painting.

What do you expect from your activity and what are you willing to give, understanding that it is a round trip process?

Creating art is a necessity for me. It’s what makes me happy. It is communication without limitations. As an artist you always hope that you communicate at least something, that it doesn’t leave people indifferent. I hope it stimulates the viewers or reminds them of their own story.

Why plastic and not another artistic activity?

It is the one that spoke to me most, the easiest way of transmitting my message. I never went to the academy or took any art classes. It was by sheer luck that I discovered abstract expressionism as a new way of communicating.

What could you say about Art in the current world?

I think art represents one of the few areas where people can share an experience even if they see the world in totally different ways. Art can bring people together who have completely different views about other aspects of society. Making art is often a solitary event but once finished it has the possibility of connecting people.

If you had to choose only one work from the whole history of painting, what would it be and why?

This is really very hard to answer. How can one choose just one work of art?

I can be in total awe in front of a William Turner, a Mark Rothko or a Clyfford Still. I have seen amazing paintings made by Rubens, Caravaggio and Canaletto. I just visited a museum in Madrid where I had the pleasure of seeing the work of Jörg Immendorf and Miguel Angel Campano.

There are so many great artists. But if I had to pick one I would probably take the one who influenced Ellsworth Kelly and the American Abstract style of the 20th century, how impressionism influenced expressionism. And that would be “Les Nymphéas” of Claude Monet.

What are the most immediate plans you have?

No immediate plans right now. Because of the current spread of the corona virus everything is on hold. My next exhibitions in Italy are postponed or cancelled. We have no idea how things will evolve. If all goes well my work will be in Zurich in August and in September I have an exhibition in the Netherlands. But who knows?

I am very lucky to have my studio in my house so I can continue painting now that we are confined to our homes. And let’s be honest, confinement is not really a big deal for artists. It’s our way of life most of the time.

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Categories: Interviews