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Oil on canvasMixed media on paper and cardboard

Reviews

What is striking about the paintings that Ruud Krijnen makes? To ask the question is to answer it: we always see recognizable representations of people, cities, flowers and especially monuments. These monuments often concern statues of men, women or horsemen. The statues are monumental and refer to earlier times when the sculptors used classical poses and techniques. These sculptors were mainly concerned with striking a great resemblance in the image with the person depicted. That likeness had to be chosen in such a way that the reason for making a monument had to be reflected in the steadfast character of the person depicted.

There is great resemblance with Ruud's painting style. For him, too, it is all about resemblance in the sense of inner qualities. This is reflected in the portraits he makes. Just as in an image the light caresses the surface, in the painted portraits the light plays with the skin. The spatial dimension, which characterizes images, is reflected in the paintings. It is as if we can view the portrayed all around. The portrait is lifelike in the sense that the spatial properties and appearance create a kind of feeling of presence in the viewer. The painted portrait is far from flat and certainly not one-dimensional if we pay attention to the portrayed character. Especially on this point we recognize the master of the trade: no 'dead' painted surfaces that can be characteristic of the amateur and no exaggerated competition painting that characterizes hyper-realists. In Ruud's performances we see a perfect balance between calm and dynamics, light and shadow, similarity and liveliness, expression and modesty.

Ruud Krijnen paints according to perception, so that his work comes close to the realists. Is Ruud a realist? However, the answer to this cannot simply be answered with a succinct "yes". In fact, answering the question requires an investigation into the nature of the perception that Ruud practices and the way in which he represents the perceived world.

The perception can take place in many ways: you can follow your eye and look at what you see without the intervention of any consciousness; you can see 'blindly' in a way where feeling functions as a compass, and you can perceive with a kind of mind's eye – the third eye – where the perception is fed from a universal consciousness.

In art, Realism as a style will mainly be recognized when the first described form of perception is involved. With this style, we expect the artist to strive for the closest possible resemblance to the chosen subject. Yet the concept is subject to inflation, because if an artist really sticks to his subject, he is quickly called a hyper-realist, certainly if a fine painter is not afraid of a one-haired brush. With the trained eye for his subject, Ruud will certainly match the ability of a hyper-realist, but he deliberately chooses not to display this style. In order to develop his capacity for refinement, he makes studies of the old masters such as Terborgh, Drost and Rembrandt. He makes studies of these predecessors without adopting their painting style. These studies are exercises in rendering light, material expression and postures.

The essences of painting, and of Realism in particular, concern many subjects. For centuries it was all about aesthetics, perspective, balance in composition, similarity, use of color and the right choice of subjects. Even the idea of ​​the Claritas, the divine light that radiates from the inside out, and which guided painting especially in the Middle Ages, has not been completely abandoned in later centuries. This is certainly not the case with Ruud's art. Despite the use of chiaroscuro techniques, in which light effects are applied from the outside, he strives to realize performances that radiate from within. He must act like a magician who conjures up his brush. This was very clearly visible during the life session with model Eveline. There were times when the painter seemed to have an autonomous brush that the painter took by the hand.

Although there was already a great deal of knowledge about the realistic representation of proportions in Classical Antiquity, the Renaissance was nevertheless experienced as a new path in painting. Techniques and insights were enriched with knowledge about the history and place of man within the new world order in the Western world. More and more commissions came from outside the church and the Baroque was soon introduced. There was greater freedom for artists to engage in individual expression. Centuries later we get the heyday of individual expression in painting with the period of modern painting of the last decades. Perhaps the most striking change that characterizes modern art is the abandonment of resemblance that is limited to painting only the visible exterior. In this respect, Ruud is therefore a true modernist, because he too is concerned with an experience value that must come from within. He does not let go of the external resemblance, but he does look for the inner drive that characterizes people.

Ruud's art therefore does not 'just' bridge the centuries-long period between Baroque and Modern Art. Leitmotitives from Classical Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Modern Period are reflected in his oeuvre. His choice of subject in many cases goes back to the time when the Renaissance transitioned into the Baroque. The loose dynamics that arise in painting at that time appeals to him and wants to revive the subjects from that time, as a kind of rebirth, in our time. Ruud's third eye is aware of the developments in the art of the modern age, but also sees that these are rooted in history. His historical and professional knowledge, which is enriched with the traditional knowledge of the old masters, gives him frames of reference that visibly permeate the way in which he paints the chosen subjects.

This also applies to the portraits he paints on commission. He paints from perception and at the same time uses knowledge that is intuitively made available through his mind's eye from deeper sources. The portraits seem to be realized in the same breath. Without preliminary studies, photographic material or multiple sessions, the artist creates an image that does justice to the person portrayed in character and personality. The light is born in the shadow; from the canvas a three-dimensional person emerges who speaks and addresses in silence. Someone appears on the canvas who reveals a personal history with its own character. The painting mirrors the person portrayed as someone in whom the breath of life is visible. The portrait is ultimately painted with the senses, with the blind intuition, and with the third eye.

The painterly result is a contemporary approach with the reminiscence of tried and tested traditions. The deeply felt respect for these traditions characterizes him as a realistic artist. His use of intuitive knowledge and symbolism make him a magician who dedicates his life to making the unknown known visible. The essences of beauty, perspective, proportions and colors are secondary but not negligible.

Jan Buizer, galerie Delfi Form

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