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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Mathieu Weemaels

Mathieu Weemaels

Belgian, born in Brussels in 1967.

Education : Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de La Cambre, Brussels and Institut St-Luc, Brussels.
Various awards. Numerous exhibitions in Belgium and in Europe.


"Honesty, simplicity, virtuosity, quality. These few words might suffice to describe Mathieu Weemaels’ art, but one feels compelled to say much more. Here we have an artist who has decidedly opted for figuration, and even realistic figuration, but who at the same time is obsessed by the virtual images (reflections) given by mirrors (single, sometimes double) and who even paints the virtual and deformed images of himself as they are reflected by his glossy tools, while, in his triptychs, he masterly restructures perspective. Thus, indeed, we find here so much more than plain realism. Mathieu’s majestic nudes appeal to the mind and the emotions of the beholder, less to his senses, and are devoid of any eroticism, on purpose. His subdued landscapes are quite impressive as well.
To obtain these dazzling results, Mathieu Weemaels alternates oil paint and the difficult technique of pastel (dry and oily). It should be noted that he makes these pastels, and his oil paints as well, by hand, according to a secular method."

Michael Kvium

Michael Kvium

1955 Born in Horsens, Denmark
1979-1985 The Royal Danish Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark

Michael Kvium is one of Scandinavia’s most distinctive painters. He had his
breakthrough in the middle of the 1980s, where he not only demonstrated straight away his very personal, figurative way of painting but also, in collaboration with his colleague, Christian Lemmerz, made performances and films in the performance group, Værst.

Since then, Kvium has furthered his technique as a painter to a point of perfection, and sharpening his idiom around a motif world, from the onset occupied with the study of humanity and the fundamental conditions of existence. In Kvium's gloomy but also absurdly humorous exegesis of human life, he puts on display that which worries him about the cultural, social and political conditions we have created for ourselves. What he sees are tendencies in the direction of a growing moral and emotional callousness, derailed sexuality, guilty conscience, collective sightlessness, existential loneliness and dread and an irresponsible and almost self-destructive devastation of the surroundings that we are a part of.

Kvium in a personal gallery of monstrous, obscene and grotesque physiognomies unfurls this complex of problems which we might repress -or which we cannot stand being confronted with -. His canvases are peopled by deformed, crumpled up, bound or coalesced human bodies which have been equipped with a number of different iconographic attributes, such as brassieres, stockings, bandages, fool's caps, penises, breasts, lemons and eggs. But his artistic vocabulary also spans across a series of paintings of misshapen organic excrescencies of an indeterminate character, which call cancerous occurrences or abortive cloning attempts to mind. These are paintings that possess a great deal of aesthetic beauty in spite of the outrageous monstrousness of their content.

Theatrical scenarios like in A Kitchen Scene (1986) were subsequently replaced by more Baroque-tinged allegories, such as in the four staggeringly large civilization-critical paintings entitled Choir, The War Stratagem of God, A Gift of Nature and The Power of Thought (1991) where skulls and exposed masses of brain tissue are central symbols. In his portrait series, Fools, of buffoons, half-wits, retarded people and imbeciles, the people in these pictures gaze to the front, with empty expressions. In Choir, they are gaping insanely; they have apparently been wounded and have been collectively bound by bandages around their hands. The bandages suggest mutual solidarity but they also hamper the people from taking action; it's difficult to imagine that this choir can sing anything at all.

Kvium is taking a look at human haughtiness, which leads us in the name of rationality into believing that we are the Lords of all things and that we can thus do whatever we please with the planet. This is human blindness, and Kvium has rendered this sightlessness thematic again and again, both indirectly and directly, in Blind Painting (1991-92), Double Me (1993), Abstract Me (1993) and Blind Eggs (1995).

What we have here is a series of paintings rendered principally in black and yellow, with the symbol for blindness with it’s three black dots on a yellow background, people with blindfolds on their eyes or faces that are just staring at us with empty expressions. They can be seen as variations on Breughel's famous picture, "The Blind Leading the Blind". We have become blind to ourselves and to each other, and Kvium is showing benevolence and charity transformed into narcissism.

In 1997, Kvium created Circus Humanus for the Aarhus Art Museum. In this exhibition, he put aside his work with painting for the sake of creating a series of new video installations and two sculptural works. "The human circus" ensnares classical themes in Kvium's art, built up here as confrontations, reflections or encounters of thematic oppositions between black and white, life and death, the positive and the negative.

It is also this collocation of night and day, the profane and the sacred, which characterizes The Wake (2000), an eight-hour long silent-film paraphrase of James Joyce's avant-garde novel "Finnegan’s Wake", which Kvium created in collaboration with the sculptor Christian Lemmerz. The film puts the picture in focus, in preference to the narrative, and shows to us the nocturnal side of our consciousness. There are many enthralling images in this film, and as is often the case in Kvium's pictures, they are far from being equally agreeable.

These new forms of artistic expression have also left their trails in his more recent paintings, where we can see a development in the direction of a greater degree of abstraction, a more subtle way of rendering taboos and traumas thematic.

Even though, in his paintings, Kvium is disclosing his concerns about our society, his paintings are anything but social-realistic accusations. The large measure of black humour and the consistent insistence on an artistic pictorial aesthetics - in Kvium's work, the implemented application of the grotesque as the bearing element in an aesthetics of ugliness, which transgresses both beauty's ideals and moral standards - gives rise to the effect that he can take up tabooed subjects without having to moralize. This is one reason why his paintings can arouse both a sense of disgust and a sense of fascination in the viewer.

In his latest paintings Michael Kvium has "imported" the quietude of the wood. As with his exhibition "Deep Forest" at Horsens Art Museum in 2003, Nature is in focus in Kvium's paintings. The characteristic figures placed in wastelands of trees and water, naked, lonely or in groups, have been pulled back in the picture plane of the new paintings. Rather painterly qualities like colour and texture have become central elements in the narrative of the strange, yet beautiful landscapes.

In the beginning of 2006, Michael Kvium’s retrospective exhibition "Jaywalking Eyes" was on show at ARoS, Aarhus Art Museum, Denmark. The exhibition featured 100 paintings from 1984-2006. The paintings were exhibited in 7 thematic rooms, especially constructed for the exhibition. The exhibition had a fantastic reception from both media and audience, which resulted in over 132.000 visitors during the period of opening.

Michael Kvium’s paintings evoke responses in his audience as he invites the viewer into byways in the human mind that awakes disgust, recognition and fascination. The large portion of absurdity and black humour prepares the way for transcending ideals of beauty and norms. Thus no one is left indifferent when encountering his work.




There is a cool, quiet elegance to Alan Macdonald's paintings, which belies the disequilibrium at their heart. His figures, grey eyed and dreaming, might be time travellers, drawing distant cousinship from the portraits of Rembrandt or Frans Hals. His bucolic northern landscapes lay claim to an equally venerable artistic heritage. But if an accretion of the art historical past informs his imagery, it is
transposed into a world where confidence has been lost, where the spiritual beliefs and myths which once bound man to nature, and through nature, to the divine, fail to connect.

Frequently, single letters or words, even meticulously copied dictionary definitions, are added to the sections of a painting, as if language might hold a key. We follow through the a,b,c, trying to piece together the jigsaw, but language proves as fallible as any system by which we structure our existence, and we are left with a series of miswired lexical circuits. Is a landscape "an area of land regarded as being visually distinct," or is it "a painting, drawing, photograph etc. depicting natural scenery?" Macdonald lets both definitions stand. Though he would not call himself a surrealist, like Magritte, he points up the ambiguities surrounding real objects and their images in art, encouraging us to consider his work as more than a simple pictorial narrative.

The otherworldly characters in his series of portrait heads have the look of forgotten pilgrims, bonneted and constrained by cords like the followers of some perverse form of Puritanism. Each is neatly titled according to a state of mind: hedonist, altruist, sadist. We read the titles and search their waxen features, hoping to discover their soul in the curl of a lip, or the tilt of a chin. Despite this attempt at self assertion the figures remain isolated, pinned down by their cords, as if by the codes and strictures of society.

These are beautiful paintings, all the more potent for their distilled sense of calm. Macdonald gives us no answers, but the questions he raises about the search for faith and identity in a difficult modern world touch a nerve, and in the faces of his pilgrims, we recognise ourselves.


1962 Born in Malawi, Central Africa
1984 BA Hons. Fine Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, Scotland
1985 Post Diploma in Fine Art, Cyprus College of Art, Paphos, Cyprus
1985-88 WASPS Studios, Forebank and Meadowmill, Dundee, Scotland
1988-03 Living and working in London
2003-present Living and working in Carnoustie, Scotland


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