Stéphane Vereecken's artistic career has led him to exhibiting his artwork at a very young age, since 1996 he has been showing his Polaroids and paintings on wood across many different venues. He has held both personal and group exhibitions in several cultural centres in Brussels, Belgium, including the Galerie Damasquine between 1996 to 2001. His work has also been exhibited in France. Vereecken's artwork has received further acclaim through being published in Belgian, French, English and American art related magazines.
"My classical studies in several academies of arts and in several artistic disciplines, has trained me in a multidisciplinary vision. Through my images of the Rabid Animals series, I explore the relationship between human beings and bestiality. A universe of reality and also of surrealism. An image photographed and also painted and drawn. The drawings on the walls, the floor and the body show an unfinished project. The viewer will interpret my images according to his feelings. My photographs are a perpetual change in the time and future of the human.
What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?
When I was a kid, I became madly in love with Mona Lisa. I thought the portrait of Mona Lisa was a perfect photograph.
It's a childhood disease that made me stay at home. I drew a lot and at the time I wanted to become a painter. I started drawing comics.
How would you describe your own personal style?
My rabid animals have the body envelope of a woman, but they are hybrids and they are changing all the time and every day. The body and the landscape, and the urban landscape drawn or projected on the bodies show us the perpetual mutation of a new world being created or remaking itself continuously. The drawings on their bodies tell their life, their personal story or their future life plans. A female body envelope also suggests birth. And the birth of a new world can only be done with the idea of a feminine source. Even if for me, the feminine here a new "genre", she is not really humanoid, nor really feminine or not really masculine. This notion of paternalism no longer exists in my works. I have a very feminine side in the way of approaching life and my artistic work
What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?
My classical studies in several art academies and in several artistic disciplines formed me with a multidisciplinary vision. I did different artistic studies and training which opened my mind to a much wider intellectual space. Learning design and illustration has opened my mind to discover through publications and books contemporary painting, video and performance art and rock music. I started to build my works through painting and photographic collages. In the future, I will photograph my sculptures and I will stick my images on them.
Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?
My family never encouraged me, quite the contrary. It is only by my will that I do what I must do. And during my artistic studies few people encouraged me. Except my teachers of drawings. A certain Marcel Vandenborre. He is a painter from Brussels. This man helped me a lot to stay as an artist as I am today.
When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?
We find in my artistic work, and since my first works of the 1990's, this political and ecological criticism. The humor in my works plays a dis-inhibiting role. It is up to the artist to impose his point of view, even if sociologically he is backtracking time. There is in art this notion of the importance of advancing and improving, but a temporal retreat is sometimes indispensable. Intellectual introspection is an artistic need. I like to represent the human and also the future of the human being on this Earth.
Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is it more a case of when the moment is right you work?
I start drawing and sketching my night ideas and ideas that come to my dreams, like many surrealist artists. I then take the series of photos and apply my drawings
on the image. The drawings are already made and the models are only the material to be filled with several layers of drawings and other images. The bodies are receptacles for ideas. The material then comes on the images.
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?
I work on several images. Two, three or four. I always work with series. And I often abandon half of my images. Often the first idea is the best.
How has your art evolved to be where it is today?
I searched between drawing, painting and video. To finally focus only on photography. I can do a lot of things with photography. My ideas are made to be reproduced with photography and to be readable enough for the greatest number of people. But my images have a mystery part too. But I really want to fill a volume and do video sculpture. I'm studying the question right now ...
Which of your artworks are you most proud off?
I do not have preferences for an image. All the images I show are happy and I am convinced by their destiny. There are pictures that my audience like more than other images and I let my images live their present moment. I am not in a particular movement or fashion. My images are timeless.
If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?
Maybe the Austrian symbolist movement or the Bauhaus, or the surreal literary. But I am very happy to live in 2018. Everything is perfect for me in my day. And what I'm looking for especially in my artistic work is the destiny of man, I must see further than today ...
What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?
The artist today must remain autonomous and timeless and must categorically avoid all this movement and this unique thought and the politically correct, which invades poorly the hearts and brains of free men. I am not a follower of political art. It would be in our time a step backwards.
What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?
I would advise him to break the figure to all his frustrated art teachers.
We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?
It's very difficult actually to know when to stop. But the way I work, with my sketches that prepare the whole process of making my image, it's much easier to know how to say stop. I just need to know if my finished image stays in the spirit of the original idea or concept. If it's not, then my picture is just missed.
What are you working on at the moment?
At this moment I continue three series. Black screen, White Wall and The Garden. All my ideas are already prepared and I will in a few days, photograph my models. Then I will prepare my next exhibitions that will take me to Belgium and other countries and other continents.
Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?
When I was younger, yes I was part of several ephemeral groups of artists. Very often these groups were designers, painters but also storytellers and writers. I loved working with literary input in my paintings and drawings. It stimulated me. Today my ideas to change the destiny of man with my drawings of unachieved lives, stimulates me myself. I no longer need the writings of others. I became totally autonomous intellectually speaking.
When is your next exhibition? Is it a solo or group exhibition? Could you tell us a little about the exhibition, when and where it is?
My next exhibition is at the end of May and the beginning of June 2018. She is in Brussels with quite a large number of Brussels artists. This is called : Le Parcours d’Artistes 2018. It's a show where Brussels artists open their artists' studios.
To view Stephane's full collection - The Online Art Gallery of Stephane Vereecken