MEDIUM Ink on paper
AS INSIDE SO OUTSIDE
SHOW HUIS KERNHEM APRIL 2022
Welcome to my first solo exhibition!
My name is Frank Verbrugge.
I would like to introduce myself by showing seven of my figurative and abstract works.
Here are all seven in a reduced form, as far as I am concerned (but who am I...?) in this order:
Together, they give you a clear picture of the way I work. And you will discover the quality I strive for.
You will also see how much I embrace both disciplines, the figurative and the abstract. The creation of my abstract work comes intuitively from infinite inner silence. I see finding that silence as the key to my creativity.
I love to fantasise about abstract works when I am working on a portrait and vice versa. In both cases, they reflect my desire to evoke closeness with my work. Whether it is a person or an animal. Or just any emotion that an abstract work can evoke in the viewer.
I once wrote about myself in a kind of poetic form:
with few moves I sow
I discover little hooks
new moves arise
me and the canvas
a dialogue in silence
rhythm and balance
in line, plane and colour
Let me start with the portrait of Hera.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
Yes, Hera....., what a sweet animal she is!
The loyalty, the respect that she has for her master, it radiates from her.
At the same time, she is completely in her own zone. When I see her, it is as if I am looking at a landscape. That wise look, wow...
What I like so much is how the light falls on her. I see a kind of snowy landscape with a slope in it that finally leads straight to the wet tip of her nose. Fascinating!
While working, I felt so connected to that animal I am not her master...
But on the photo with Hera? I granted myself this pleasure!
The dynamics of the white
With this pose, so to speak, you only need Hera's head to capture her, the rest is support.
Hera's styling is so beautiful, so clean, more background would detract from that image.
I chose the white consisting of rough brushstrokes, which makes the background come alive. The reflections of the light are therefore not even. This creates dynamics.
Hera's sweet character
Above my head on the right you can see a kind of spot of warm white, about 20 by 20 cm.
With this I accentuate Hera's feminine, soft and sweet character. I also wanted to reflect that character in the frame. It is made of beech wood with a fine grain that is still visible. So it is not painted over.
Homage to Hera!
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
The soul of a portrait
The quality I strive for in my portraits is that you already know the person a little because you have seen my painting of him or her. Is that person themselves present in the painting? Is such a person ‘unconditionally present’? As they are, and as they are known by their environment?
The greatest compliment I can get is a resounding ‘YES’ to all these questions.
Then I have touched the soul of such a person. That is what I call it. And what then is this soul?
Let me say first of all that if that soul is there, then as a viewer you feel the closeness of that person.
And how that comes about?
Peace and balance
Through the right balance of all kinds of fragments. In this case, for example, her silhouette. Even if you didn't have your glasses on, you would still recognise her by her silhouette. I.e. her attitude. The typical proportions of the eyes, mouth and nose are also decisive. Another anchor, as I call these fragments, is the moment at which I portray her. I want to portray her in a pose that is characteristic of her and in a relaxed peacefulness.
The most important question is always: which anchors do I want to give attention to, and which not, or less? I do that with the lighting, for example, or through a detailed elaboration, or a contrast. This is actually the search for the right hierarchy in what I could show. Matters that I think and feel that attention should go to, that draw the eye.
Until I realise that I feel the person through my own work, in front of me. Then it is right!
That is why I always start with an extensive photo session.
In such a session, I look for the - somewhat daring word in this context - ‘stripped down’ version of the person. Not literally of course, haha!
I create an atmosphere that invites the other person to relax and be who he or she is. Apart from all the pleasantries, possible tensions, outward appearances and ballast that is carried along.
And I just watch and observe. Endlessly watching: how does she behave? ‘Hey, funny little subtle eyebrow movement’ that kind of observation.
I then get what I call a coherent image of someone. An image that is right: the external phenomena correspond to how someone talks and behaves, the little traits illustrate someone's identity, I then experience someone as an unconditionally present person. ‘Time for the right photos!’ I then say to myself.
MEDIUM Ink on paper
Connection and Isolation
It often happens that I sit with a white paper in front of me and the white hypnotises me, as it were.
I am then curious to see what will flow from my pen. In this case, too.
A few lines, nothing more.
This drawing illustrates my desire for visual tranquillity and simplicity. I love the space of the white. It's almost serene.
You could also call my work minimalist.
I find unspoilt white space just as important as the line, the colour or the surface.
You can see that here too. What I mean here is this separate line at the bottom. It goes its own way, separate from the group. Isolated? Or maybe even rejected? Who knows...? Or does that little line need space?
In other words, with my work I also want to create space.
Now that I'm saying all this, I realise that I'm linking more thoughts to it now than when I made this drawing. I now see that it represents themes that often recur in my work: connection and isolation.
I have always been someone who mainly observed. I didn't go to secondary school to have friends. Not that I was excluded, or not accepted. I was not a loner. But I did not really feel that I belonged until the end of secondary school.
And what did that connection mean? I later found the right word for this: unconditional.
Just being able to be together without necessarily having a good conversation. That silence is also good. Letting the other person be in it and find them there.
Not having to put yourself on a pedestal in the middle of a group, with all the bravado that entails.
I feel most comfortable in personal contact with people.
Just ‘being present’, as I want to express in all my work.
MEDIUM Ink on paper
The luxury of 'not knowing'.
Yes, where did I start?
I think I started with the brush, with those planes. And then I went through them with the ink. Something like that comes about while looking and from a sort of gut feeling. This is where skill, coincidence (something that simply happens to me...) and playfulness come together again.
And then, almost to my amazement, I discover that this is a wondrous abstract work.
While drawing and painting, I love searching for such a balance, a balanced image. By playing with format, line width, the relationship between surfaces and white space.
When I look back on it now, the word energy pops up. Is energy being transmitted? Are strings being played? You feel tension..., charge. I allow myself the luxury of ‘not knowing’.
At the same time, it makes me think of the visualisation of a mechanism. Something manufactured, industrial. I remember that after secondary school, I was looking for a design course. In the end, TU Delft was my deciding factor. I wanted to understand the inside of a product. I find technology fascinating!
This ‘tic’ is also very much in my family: things have to be right, so they have to function well!
MEDIUM Oil on paper
Not everything has to make sense…..
I am very happy with this semi-abstract work. Of course, it is still quite figurative and especially expressive. But still... It is an invented person. It nicely illustrates how abstract and figurative can interact. The effect of one material invites a certain technique, which in turn requires something that I had not anticipated.
If you paint a lot of portraits, you eventually get muscle knowledge.
As an artist, I know how a face is put together, which muscles are where and how they extend to the skull. And how to use that knowledge to portray a desired facial expression.
The amazing thing is that in time, your hand will also ‘know ‘this.
And then you can start playing with this almost automatic motor skill.
Playing with ingrained motor skills
In other words, I can partly manipulate my hand, while at the same time it is going its own well-worn motor way. It is wonderful to create intuitively and emotionally in this amazing freedom.
In other words, this painting came about through that combination of study and freedom, discipline and creativity, meticulousness and 'just let it be'. Then not everything has to make sense.....
And it is in that combination that this painting was created.
I am playing, as it were, with my own skill.
'My original Self'
During my career as a product designer for a large multinational, I developed a growing desire for making things myself, drawing and painting. As this hobby became more and more compulsory, I felt as if I found back, what I call my original Self.
Let me explain.
As a secondary school pupil, I took great pleasure in the creative subjects of handicraft and drawing. To me this was like swimming with ease. Close your eyes and just go. And getting nines and tens, that too. I took it all for granted to such an extent that I thought it was all too easy for me. It just came to me and I didn't take it seriously. An example.
An 11 instead of a 10
One time, I had made a piece of work from steel. Then the teacher asked me: ‘Hey Frank, you're going to put this up for sale, right?’
I had no idea. Why put it up for sale? In can't do that, can I? I remember thinking: 'It's just my own thing, that's crazy!’ It didn't occur to me that it might be a special piece of work.
That teacher advised my father, who was my handicraft teacher, to give me an 11. Of course, it turned out to be a 10. My father wouldn't dare…….
In the end, it turned out that I could have gone straight to the second class of the Art Academy.
MEDIUM Ink on paper
The dark road
I love it when my work puts people in a positive mood. There is enough misery in the world already. At the same time, work always chooses its own way. Just to give an example.
A friend of mine characterised this work with the following title:
The dark road via coffee to a burn-out
Just to say.... That's something I hadn't thought of in the first place.
But apparently, that's how it can go.
For me, this work typifies my penchant for simplicity and respect for (white) space.
Incidentally, this is a wonderful illustration of what abstract art can do. It turns you inwards and stirs up images and emotions.
I sometimes say: ‘abstract art is figurative for emotions’. That is why I love these two art forms so much. They interact and provide a fertile ground.
The two touch each other in my desire to evoke closeness with my work, whether it concerns a person, an animal or an emotion.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
The magic of happiness?
Sometimes, fortune favours you. Then it seems like magic.
Here is a detail of two girls that I painted on commission
I will try to explain it.
The suggestion of 3D
What you see is an eye that shines...., SHINES! And that the eye is a sphere. I create a suggestion of a three-dimensional (3D) reality.
To suggest 3D is magic!
You do not see 3D because you look at what it evokes. The aspects in a painting that have the task of evoking that 3D perception in you, are exactly the aspects that are least looked at in a painting. And yet that is where my main attention is focused. The same applies to the following case. Sometimes luck is on your side. I'll let you in on a little secret.
You can see a very thin grey line to the right of her pupil, just under her eyelid. It came out of my one-haired brush more or less by accident and...., taaaadaaamm, let that be the very line that creates the shimmer and the bulge. I was and am so happy with that.
The cast shadow of the eyelid on the eyeball is also not what draws your attention as a viewer. But it is the key detail to suggest depth.