«He lives and works in a small European town in the woods, which has been kept secret since the early Seventies. His reclusive lyfestyle has been the source of many speculations by others from the outside.»
Hatje Cantz recently released the first extensive monograph of Belgian artist Rinus Van de Velde (born 1983), gathering a selection of works and exhibition views spanning from 2009 up to today.
Entering the world of Rinus Van de Velde feels like sneaking into someone’s private biography, one to which the fortunate stranger has been granted access, for some reason. We are looking at the artist’s life, when staring at his large-format charcoal drawings. He screams his presence, his face is everywhere: turning himself into uncountable characters, he drags us into an immersive journey in a possible, yet absurd universe of representation.
Van de Velde’s drawings are meticulously set up and the process of their construction often revealed. Each section of the book is accompanied by exhibition views and backstage shots of the photographic sets from which the images are drawn. A constant reminder for the viewer never to look at them as mere factual realities, as it would come natural according to the most controversial debate that the nature of photography underlies.
For the same reason, the texts accompanying each image – far from being mere captions – become indispensable. They are notes and stories, where facts and imagination melt ambiguously. They are entrenched in the images, empower their narrative quality and turn each drawing into an independent and complete episode of a possible artist’s biography – which just happens to look exactly like Van de Velde.
The instillation of doubt towards these drawings’ truthfulness functions as an antidote to getting irretrievably lost in the illusional dimension Van de Velde has created, both for himself and for us.
Rinus Van de Velde: Selected Works 148 pp., € 39.80 www.hatjecantz.de