Dear Cleo 17 05 05

Dear Cleo

I hope you are well and I am looking forward to catching up with you at the weekend. Today I am doing the hard yards with research into M. Borremans, a contemporary Belgian painter.

Michael Borremans

“I try to draw from time to time. But somehow I’m losing interest in it. My sight is getting worse. I never buy paper; I work on found paper that doesn’t look too artistic. I like to work on a piece of paper that has a history that I don’t know.” M. Borremans.

Thinking about Borremans as a creator of art that both creates and denies three dimensions my first thought is of his depiction of the Bunrako puppeteers. In real life the puppeteers have zero dimensionality and are dressed thus so that they melt into the background leaving the puppets to star on the darkened stage. In making them three dimensional figures and the stars of his shows, Borremans induces a strange reality where the priest and the miracle become visible and puppeteer becomes puppet. Borremans says, “Painting is like a stage. Drawing is very different—it doesn’t have the weight of painting. In drawing, you can formulate all kinds of ideas, but in painting there’s a statement. It’s taken more seriously and in a different way. I really wanted to use painting like a stage, like Manet did.”

Figure 1 Black mould The Dance (2015) M. Borremans

In his paintings Borremans invariably has a shallow picture space and he himself said in an interview with Maggie Grey (1)  ‘I tend to leave some canvas visible, either by scraping off paint with a knife, or by using transparent paint, or by leaving some canvas open, I want to make it clear that it’s an illusion.’  This is a way of maintaining the flat two dimensionality of the picture space in what are very three dimensional figures.

Borremans cites Manet, Vermeer and Velasquez as the giants upon whose shoulders he stands and while the connection with Monet are readily apparent in the images of his paintings on the internet I would probably need to see some of his work in the flesh to make the other comparisons.

In his drawings, however, Borremans totally juggles the second and third dimension, the prepatory drawings, which according to Borremans could take up to a year to  complete, have a playfulness that is difficult to describe.

There are two scholarly papers one by Stefan Beys (10) and another by Jennifer Higge (8) describing Borremans process which are well worth reading for their insight into the  painterly process,  but by far the most interesting is the documentary A Knife in the Eye (17) where Borremans discusses his own process.


Well that was quite wordy my dear but I hope you found time to                 watch the video

My love as always

Mickos x

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