My old studio, light from the north, sketches and materials all over the place, surrounded by empty coffee mugs, the smell of balsam turpentine intermingles with sweet pipe smoke, hand and clothes covered in paint, fighting the snow-white white of the freshly stretched canvas. Starting a new piece.
Born in the flat and empty land in the north of the Netherlands, growing up by the sea, these desolate but impressive landscapes have made a lasting impression on me. With their low but broad skies, in storm or calm. And still am I looking to capture the pathos in my current paintings. Underneath these skies I fill my own world with objects and sometimes with characters, maybe telling a story, asking questions, searching, not necessarily giving any answers. I moved to the Alps a few years back and now mountains and stones and new clouds seem to grow, another perspective.
At this point I tend to leave the certainty of sketches behind and move straight to the canvas, all my paintings are made without the use of any reference materials, no photos, models et cetera. All this in order to make a more direct kind of art, that still possesses a realistic feel. People tend to think my work comes across as surrealistic, but they are only right in the sense that my work largely spring from my subconscious, most images could exist in reality. This has been a progress which has been maturing over many years, and thankfully has by no means evolved to any conclusion.
Every painting has its own soul and place of origin, but overall I think that, ... structure, balance, light, space and atmosphere are the keywords for my current process. all wrought with a tense sense of calm. Certain themes seem to reappear ever more; these I translate into symbols in my works. Especially the epistemological philosophy and the effects of this on our conceptualization of the world around us is a recurring influence. The hidden and unknowable, intrigues me without end. In the end there is nothing we can know for certain or break down enough to totally understand it. With my paintings I try to portray something as close to the source as possible. I work to learn and clarify things, Intermingled are very personal motives, but they are still open enough for interpretation.
Working in oil is the best suited for me. The calm that painting in oil requires is a rather good analogy for that which I am trying to convey at this point in time. I usually work with a very limited palette. With minuscule alterations I make as much as possible nuances. The past few years I moved away from any modern materials to a more romantic approach with old techniques. I produce paints and mediums with the best possible materials and invent my own recipes.
The past few years I have studied vigorously to get the confidence in my process and materials in order to work more freely. I find more and more depth in color, concept and space in my work. A painting can be like a halcyon day in these rushed and busy times. So, I’ll fill my spaces and landscapes with objects, concepts and people and tell my stories without knowing the end.
All images on this site are protected by copyright law, © Egmont Hartwig 2002/ 2013