A painter’s home

Ballroom, 2011 by Piet Raemdonck. Mixed media on paper, 53x60 cm.

Ballroom, 2011 by Piet Raemdonck. Mixed media on paper, 53×60 cm.

After his art studies, at the age of 25, Piet Raemdonck adopted the mantra ‘i live from my paintings’ and that’s exactly what he did and he never looked back.

Piet Raemdonck's atelier in his home.

Piet Raemdonck’s atelier in his home.

Piet Raemdonck (*Ghent 1972) lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium. His home is a former diamond cutting workplace build in 1904, now overgrown with plants. He has lived here for 20 years.

The home of Piet Raemdonck in Antwerp.

The home of Piet Raemdonck in Antwerp.

His work can be roughly summarised as still lives, landscapes and compositions. Abstraction moved in as he went along.

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Omaggio a Morandi I, 2010 by Piet Raemdonck. 60×40 cm, oil on wood.

In 2010, fashion designer Dries Van Noten assigned him to paint 8 large portraits as images for his winter collection. They were shown in Antwerp, Hong Kong and Paris and became a milestone in his career. For these portraits he started using pure black paint again which he avoided for years. Colours and light characterise his works and that’s not different for his home.

Portraits by Piet Raemdonck made as images for Dries Van Noten's winter collection 2010

Portraits by Piet Raemdonck made as images for Dries Van Noten’s winter collection 2010

At the end of this year a compilation of his work will be published in a book. Meanwhile you can visit his website and gallery to admire his vibrant works.

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Rothko’s soup

No. 16 by Mark Rothko, 1957. Oil paint on canvas, 252 x 207 cm.

No. 16 by Mark Rothko, 1957. Oil paint on canvas, 252 x 207 cm.

Mark Rothko (1903-1970) is considered as one of the most important artists of the 20th century. His large abstract paintings with colour blocks, so typical for Rothko’s classical style, are auctioned for tens of millions of dollars.

Mark Rothko, New York, 1960. Photo by Rudy Burckhardt.

Mark Rothko, New York, 1960. Photo by Rudy Burckhardt.

More than 20 years (until his suicide in 1970), Rothko painted rectangular blocks in the most vivid of colours but even so in black. How did this extreme reduction of imagery came to be? How did he become an abstract painter?

Antigone by Mark Rothko, circa 1941. Oil paint and charcoal on canvas, 86 x 116 cm.

Antigone by Mark Rothko, circa 1941. Oil paint and charcoal on canvas, 86 x 116 cm.

What i enjoyed tremendously in the current exhibition ‘Mark Rothko’ in Den Haag (The Netherlands) is the attempt to answer these questions. A lot of attention is dedicated to the early figurative work and the evolution to his later work.

Personage 2 by Mark Rothko, 1946. Oil paint on canvas, 142 x 82 cm.

Personage 2 by Mark Rothko, 1946. Oil paint on canvas, 142 x 82 cm.

His move from a naturalistic to a surrealistic style in the early 40’s is influenced by his interest in myths, psychoanalysis and the writings of Nietzsche. This stylistic move coincided also with major changes in his private life: after living as a Russian in the States for 25 years he was naturalised and he changed his name from Rothkowitz to Rothko. He divorced his first wife Edith Sachar, struggled with a depression and stopped painting for some time to work on his essay ‘The Artist’s Reality’.

No. 18 by Mark Rothko, 1946. Oil paint on canvas, 155 x 110 cm.

No. 18 by Mark Rothko, 1946. Oil paint on canvas, 155 x 110 cm.

His adaptation of surrealism to his first abstract style, the so-called multiforms, occurred around the mid 40’s. His friendship with Clyfford Still seems to have played an important role in this evolution.

Untitled by Mark Rothko, 1948. Oil paint on canvas, 126 x 112 cm.

Untitled by Mark Rothko, 1948. Oil paint on canvas, 126 x 112 cm.

The multiforms shown in the exhibition in Den Haag are absolutely gorgeous and completely mesmerising. A soup of slowly moving forms with blurred lines between figure and background. Abstraction is boiling.

No. 9 by Mark Rothko, 1948. Oil paint and mixed media on canvas, 134 x 118 cm.

No. 9 by Mark Rothko, 1948. Oil paint and mixed media on canvas, 134 x 118 cm.

No. 10 by Mark Rothko, 1948. Oil paint on canvas, 164 x 108 cm.

No. 10 by Mark Rothko, 1948. Oil paint on canvas, 164 x 108 cm.

In 1950 Rothko starts to develop his signature style with rectangular, hazy colour fields on monochrome portrait formats. Rothko is no longer stirring the soup.

No. 7 (or) No. 11 by Mark Rothko, 1949. Oil paint on canvas, 173 x 111 cm.

No. 7 (or) No. 11 by Mark Rothko, 1949. Oil paint on canvas, 173 x 111 cm.

All pictures are scans from the catalogue ‘Mark Rothko’ accompanying the exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag from 20 Sep 2014 till 1 Mar 2015.