Billboard Series #10:
This Billboard Series is a tribute to the painter Lucas Devriendt, who unexpectedly passed away on 8 November 2017, at the age of 62.
In a very accessible and recognizable, figurative style, Lucas Devriendt focuses on the essence of painting: on the canvas, brush, paint, model, and studio – through contemporary versions of classical genre paintings such as still lifes and landscapes, but especially portraits. In an interview in the art magazine, H-ART Devriendt says: “I do not comment on the contemporary, but rather on the classical. When you visit the Louvre or any other museum with classical paintings, you notice which works really fascinate the visitors: the landscapes and still lifes, of course, but especially the portraits seem to take up a lot of attention. I want to reflect on these genre paintings – but I take a stand against the classical academy and the anonymous model: for me, a model has a face, a personality. The people who posed for me each have their own story: Thibaut, Lotta, the naked woman, my son and his girlfriend … Those people interest me.”
The studio of Devriendt played an important role in all of this: as a place where he constructed still lifes, where his models posed and where he painted, but not figured in his paintings. On many of his portraits, the models are pictured posing in front of a white canvas that is already hanging in his studio – like an image within an image. His favourite red table is also present in countless works. Often you see the table in the background, but sometimes it is very prominently depicted – this little red table full of paint stains with a smoking cigarette on the edge, waiting for the painter to return to work.
Inspired by the old masters, and the way in which they portray their models in front of a black background – as if they appear out of nothing, Devriendt started at some point to use black plastic as a background for his portraits. However, soon this black plastic came to the forefront, and became one of the most important subjects of his paintings. He painted a whole series of works on this theme and even devoted his Ph.D. to it. It is, of course, a dreamy subject to paint; on the one hand, it is about pure painting (he once said that he used as much black and white for these works) and the pleasure that it brought Lucas, but on the other hand, this series is also very much about absence – of the artist, of light, of meaning. In addition, it is a constant reflection on one of the most iconic masterpieces of the 20th century: the famous black square of Kazimir Malevich.
Lucas Devriendt was a teacher as well as a painter; both roles took an equal importance in his life. As one of the driving forces of the painting department of LUCA | School of Arts, Lucas has formed innumerable young artists over the past decades, helping them to find their own artistic vision and way.
All images courtesy of the artist
Installation photography: Michiel De Cleene
Billboard Series is a long-term art project in public space, for which every three months an artist is invited to create a new, site-specific work for a 50 m2 billboard on Dok Noord, Ghent. Through changing presentations, Billboard Series wants to build a sustainable and productive dialogue with the surrounding neighbourhood and urban landscape, reflect on the changes that this neighbourhood is currently undergoing, and introduce a broad audience to different visual languages and ways of looking at the world.
Billboard Series is a project of artlead, together with 019. Billboard Series is curated by Thomas Caron, takes place within a scenography by architect Olivier Goethals, and is being developed with the support of the City of Ghent and the Flemish Community.