In the last few years, Belgium – and Brussels more specifically – has grown into a global artistic hub. Galleries, collectors, museums, non-profits, private collections and artist-run spaces have all, it seems, converged to create one of the most exiting and dynamic contemporary art eco-systems in a while. As a result, there’s never been a better time to be an artist in the country. Here are seven that have spiked our interest.
The full list of artist’s portfolios can be found in the Demand (April-May) edition of the magazine.
Catharina Dhaen (1992)
Born in Antwerp, Catharina lives and works in Ghent.
How would you describe your practice, and your approach?
I used to say that I wanted my paintings to communicate one thing only: painting itself. Painting is a bit like playing chess. It’s fun but it can give you headaches as well. A chess player thinks in a very strategic way so he can win the game. Therefore he sometimes has to make less obvious choices, considering the consequences. The game consists of a vast amount of moves and countermoves, somehow comparable to my way of painting. I find it very important that my approach is not rigid. I never make plans ahead and I never have an image of how the painting will look like in the end. I tend to follow my instincts and make intuitive choices. Sometimes I win the game, sometimes I loose.
What inspires you?
I’ve only just recently realised that my work is always about perception, about certain ways of seeing and approaching the intangible things in the world around you. About impressions also, maybe. I get inspired by the uncomplicated beauty of everyday life. Nice forms, shapes and colours. How the light comes in a room and how the shadows find their way. Maybe that’s all very personal, but it provokes the desire to try to understand all these things in a painting.
What recent work of yours best exemplifies what you do?
Probably “Rising sun on the Plaza”. The painting is bigger than the formats I’m used to work on. It started as some quick observations on the light in my studio. Then I decided to paint a rather large, stretched out area. You see a mass of blackness, but at the same time there’s a feeling of emptiness. You’re not sure if you see a depth or smooth surface. It’s the kind of painting you really have to see in real life. Like many paintings, you can’t photograph it because you have to walk around it to understand it better.
If you had one message for art students, what would it be?
I would say that as an art student, you have to work hard and dare to dream. Being a student is really nice because it seems like you have all the time in the world and that all the opportunities are there. Try to see as much as you can, read, watch nice movies, visit cities and talk to people. Accept feedback, but never get blown away by critique that, by the way, is mostly given by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s your work. It’s okay to set your goals and to broaden your horizon.