With his body of work ‘From Ashes to Ashes’ the artist is searching for a new type of realism.
A realism in line with the values and movements of our century. Therefore he developed new painting methods and additional concepts. He reduces illusionistic aspects just like abstract paintings but without reducing its realistic quality. A realism based on facts rather than illusionistic aspects.
The paintings shown here are an interpretation of a cartographic image of our world throughout different time periods. In order to recreate this shape the artist first of all asked himself the following question. “which entity is most responsible for the shape of our world?” The answer, without going in too much detail, is temperature.
In order to create these images, to shape the world, the artist decided to bring the painting method as close as possible to the method ‘nature itself’ used to shape our world. He decided to replace the traditional brushes with temperature. Dries is the only artist that uses this method of painting at the moment of writing. The image is a ‘wet in wet watercolor’ made with fire (+-1500 °c). Further a lot of the paintings shown here are made with the three basic components of color (red, yellow and blue). Just like our earth that is made out of simple basic elements.
This approach generates an extremely rare and interesting form of realism. For example the craters/silent volcano’s that you can see on the image are a document of volcano’s that actually originated while painting because of the high temperatures that are used. A realism that houses in the process rather then the final result.
The title ‘From Ashes to Ashes’ of course refers first of all to the cycle of life. Where every form of matter eventually returns to its original state. All states in between are nothing but temporarily. And secondly, because the creative process is very similar to any form of destructive process. Which high temperatures in the form of fire most of the time are. In this way the creative act becomes a balance act between destruction and construction. Thereby providing a blink towards our modern society that for some reason seems to be very good at the destructive side of this balancing act. Thinking about: global warming, distinction of species, environmental disasters, etc.
I will not go in detail into the painting method but it is important to understand a part of it in order to feel the complexity of the technique. As said above, the brushes are replaced with temperature. The artist didn’t touch the paper/painting (with any tool) at any point except for the drawing underneath the painting, while painting he only manipulated the picture with temperature. This painting is a ‘wet in wet’ painting painted in one moment (no multiple layers or drying processes). Normally it’s impossible to generate a lot of structure within a ‘one moment wet in wet’ watercolour painting. But with the techniques that the artist developed it is possible to combine a lot of structure with this beautiful ‘wet in wet’ atmosphere
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