According to Bendt Eyckermans, everything he paints is true; every subject is an event or a recent memory that he has to process through painting. He bases his paintings on his friends, the Antwerp nightlife, and love. “I paint to capture fragile memories. Paint is the perfect medium to express emotions and the impermanence of both the canvas and the memory,” he says. The subjects of Eyckermans’ paintings are meaningful people or places in his life. In these paintings, he explores the boundaries between realism and expressionism, which leads to subtle deformations of his models and an expressive portrayal of color and light.
Bendt Eyckermans is a 24-year-old painter based in Antwerp. He studied at the Royal Academy of Fine arts in Antwerp where he earned his ‘Master of Fine Arts, Painting’ in 2016. His grandfather, Lode Eyckermans, was a famous sculptor. He has the privilege to work in the former studio of his grandfather, surrounded by the memories of his predecessor.
Eyckermans’ mutated recollections, a copy of a copy of a memory, are constructed on a rough, grainy canvas like a photo that has become blurred. And what else is a memory than a depiction (a copy) of a past reality? The photo is adapted to the canvas. Aspects are changed, removed or added. With a pointillist finish here and there, the painting leans even more towards its photographic origins. The technique introduces movement into the image, making it dynamic. Just as dynamic as the memory itself. The spots of paint create the illusion of light. And light enables us to look.
For Eyckermans, painting is pure love. And it should remain as pure love. His work starts out from personal observation, but ultimately stands up in its own right. Once a work is complete, it is up to the viewer to get busy on it.
Eyckermans draws his inspiration from both twentieth-century Belgian painting and Assyrian and Egyptian bas-reliefs. These works may be centuries old, but they radiate an immense strength. They are also deceptively simple. Though they appear at first sight to be flat and lacking in depth, the images in these bas- reliefs are positioned and arranged so that they create a richness of depth. In the same way, Eyckermans brings a three-dimensional image to life out of the two dimensions of his paintings.
What attracts him about the painting of such artists as Jean Brusselmans, Floris and Oscar Jespers and James Ensor is their rendering of a pure Belgian reality. The world as they knew it and saw around them. A copy (with all the ambiguous meanings of the word) of their observations. Eyckermans’ too paints his immediate surroundings. He paints what he experiences and sees.
Eyckermans does not try to shock or make the world a better place. His aim is to capture his own transience and that of the people around him and record it in paint. He literally bends the world to his will. A moment becomes a photo, the photo becomes a collage and the collage a painting. In his brushstrokes, the memory, the reality that was, is changed. And something utterly original emerges from the images, which refer directly to what has been experienced.
Ernest de Clerck