The Twenty SS20 Issue

Cover: Visual Recycling

By Angelina Puschkarski

From 26 June until 2 August 2014 a new exhibition in the Galerie Nathalie Obadia in Brussels will be collaborating with artist Sophie Kuijken showcasing her paintings for the first time. The Belgian artist, who was born in Bruges in 1965 and graduated from the Gent Academy (K.A.S.K.) in 1988, has followed an unconventional career path, and her works are equally atypical. After graduating, she spent almost 20 years in introspection and isolation, ceaselessly painting portraits, a genre which was to remain her leitmotiv and the favoured medium for her pictorial experiments.

Sophie Kuijken. N.R. 2014, Oil and acrylic on pannel. 74 x 60cm
Sophie Kuijken. N.R. 2014, Oil and acrylic on pannel. 74 x 60cm

 

Nothing remains of those years of searching during which Sophie Kuijken deliberately cut herself off from the world and the art market. She has destroyed everything. This gesture marked the beginning of a new phase, this time turned outwards. In 2010, the doors of Sophie Kuijken’s workshop swung open for the first time. They were unlocked by a major Belgian collector, who decided to share his reaction with Joost Declercq. In 2011, the director of the Dhondt-Dhaenens Museum in Deurle, Belgium, decided to put Sophie Kuijken’s paintings on display for the first time in a solo show, giving the public its first chance to experience her portraits of men or women with that very particular aura.

The strangeness radiated by Sophie’s portraits comes from the actual method used by the artist, who composes her models from images selected on the internet. She conducts her on-line searches using key words such as a name, a place or a number.

This yields a gallery of individuals whose anonymity she cultivates by blending them together. The effigies resulting from this random mixing process no longer have anything in common with their original models. This makes the painted portraits a kind of ‘visual recycling’, far removed from any formal reality, despite the impression of verism that they convey.

Sophie Kuijken. G.K.A.M. , 2014. Oil and acrylic on panel. 108 x 230cm
Sophie Kuijken. G.K.A.M. , 2014. Oil and acrylic on panel. 108 x 230cm

 

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