Belgian artist, Eric De Becker has an educational background in Fine Arts & Advertising. His work is highly influenced by COBRA, de Kooning, Cocteau and Twombly to name but a few. De Becker is also a strong follower of the "Tachism" movement (Art Informal-Intuitive Painting), the European answer to the American Action Painting of the 1940's and 1950's. He currently lives and works in the Antwerp area in Belgium.
Current Artwork - The 100 Faces Project
The 100 Faces Project shows 100 different and mostly distorted faces. Unmasking the subjects in a provocative and ruthless manner. Grimacing faces and the materiality of colour creates awareness of brutality, existential abysses, and the fears of existence. The works are made with a specific technique, the strokes, brushes, drawings rapidly applied onto the canvas or paper which express the dynamics borrowed from the Tachism-movement.
What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?
I believe this is not something that just happens at some point in life. I believe that everyone is born as a “creative”, or as an artist, but throughout your education this is not nurtured by schools or adults, so lots of people deny their artistic talent and just go carry on with their lives. Others, like myself kept the fire burning and started art school since for me there was no other option.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Throughout the years I discovered that drawing was my main talent. So it all starts from a drawing, and from there I added other techniques to it, such as painting, collage, mixed media etc.
What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?
As I just said, the drawing will always be there, but I tend to add different layers to it. Today it’s painting or collage or a mix of both. I believe that in the future other layers will be added: trash I find in the street, cardboard, etc….
What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?
Just common “people” things. I just finished a show which I worked on for a year. I actually painted a face every single day throughout the past year. The show was called “a 100 Faces” and described the mortality of people. Initially the theme was inspired by a colleague of mine that turned ill in the summer of 2017. When I returned from the hospital after a visit I started drawing a face, not realising it was his. The face was grim, lost of all expression, and looked desperate (since he was diagnosed with cancer). That’s when I decided to paint a series of 100 faces, every day faces of people that are confronted with illness, the loss of a partner, a child. Everyone is confronted in some stage of life with loss, tragedy and other negative situations. These themes are what drove me to the easel the past year.
Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?
Sure, mainly the art teachers, parents and friends of course.
When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?
Whatever there is at hand at the moment. I keep acrylic paint very close, and tons of crayons of course
Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?
It just happens in a natural way, almost as if there is “no process” behind it.
Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?
I mainly work late in the evenings. I don’t know why, but I just can't work throughout the day. That seems too much like “work”, and I still have a day job, the nights are so much more inspiring.
When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?
Mainly I work on one piece, but I try to complete it the same night (to keep the dynamic), but when completed I start a new one. So it can happen that I make five pieces in one night.
Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?
Lots of them: Andrew Salgado, Tracy Emin, Luc Tuymans, Willem de Kooning, Michael Borremans to name but a few.
If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?
Definitely the COBRA period: Alechinsky, Appel, Corneille
What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?
Getting valuable representation. With a gallery that re-invents the art business.
What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?
Work, work, work and work again
Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is there another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?
I love good drawers, Michael Borremans is one. Marlene Dumas is one. So I am attracted to those artist where drawing is still the primary basis of their work.
Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?
I believe that artists can jump into a cause that matters. Artists always get away with it since we have an objective look. And yes, it’s our duty to be critical
What are you working on at the moment?
I have had to go “cold turkey” after my 100 Faces project, as the themes / subject matter is/was still in my head. I needed some time to empty my thought patterns to make room for new creative endeavours. But I expect a new stream of creativity to surface in early 2019.