Empty Room, oil & enamel on canvas, 155 x 200 cm, 1988
The painting where it all begins, is called ‘Empty Room’. It is a title to take literally.
The first year he has his own studio, it is on the top floor of a garment factory. But it's a struggle to balance his first freedom as an artist and the desire to create something new.
Then, on one of his many trips to the paint shop, an idea he is brooding on for awhile now, suddenly popped up. Immediately he turns around and heads for the nearest DIY store, where he buys two big cans of black and white enamel paint. The idea behind it is, if one can't find his way with the language of oil paint (which has many connotations difficult to ignore), maybe he should use a different alphabet, hence the enamel.
So far so good.
On his way back to the studio, carrying the two heavy 5 kg cans, he wonders, what do you paint with enamel? Then looking (somewhat bewildered) at an old painting, he has another idea. Maybe he asked the wrong question. Maybe it's not what you want to paint but what this particular paint is used for. Enamel is a household paint used to paint rooms. So, let's paint a room, literally.
Enamel is also a very liquid paint that starts dripping fast, so halfway the process the canvas went off the easel onto the floor.
After a night of drying, the canvas went back on the easel and there it was, one empty room, the first of a series and the first painting that was completely the artist Guido Vrolix.
The Knife, enamel on woodpanel, 140 x 140 cm, 1989
“A silhouette can give away the nature of someone (or something) as well as its individuality.”
In the work of Guido Vrolix you will always encounter the silhouette. Silhouettes of people, furniture and attributes, even spaces, figure in his big sized acrylic, lacquer and oil paintings. The idea is that the resulting clichés, abstracted in smooth and vibrant color fields, ultimately shows the real story.
Family Portrait, oil on canvas, 150 x 200 cm, 1996
The silhouette is a principle that takes form from the early 1990s onward. Finally, by the end of 1995, he painted the 'Family Portrait' and taking the artist over a year and 8 versions before getting a result he is satisfied with. It's the best as well as the last of a 'static' period after which the figures in his painting become more mobile.
Flying Around!, oil on canvas, 180 x 180 cm, 1999
‘Flying Around!’ is one of the paintings that marks a crucial moment in the carrier of the artist.
Nude, oil on canvas, 160 x 180 cm, 2002
There is of course more than one way to create a silhouette like seen in his series 'Nudes’. It's like carving out the figure out of a one color background were the white lines are actual unpainted canvas.
Looking at me looking back, enamel on canvas, 175 x 200 cm, 2004
In his many enamel paintings the people in it, are like shadows moving in a three dimensional world. A rather cold world for that because enamel compared with oil paint is not a welcoming material. But of course that's a vital part of the story here, the alienation of the individual in an urban environment. Again a different approach to the silhouette form.
The Tranches, oil on canvas, 175 x 190 cm, 2013
The influence of the graphic novel is very obvious in these works, but the thing is, they are based on Guido Vrolix own comic books. (See more further down this page.)
Puberty (After Munch), oil & gloss medium on canvas, 160 x 180 cm, 2015
Where the artist, since 1990, made the drawing disappear into the silhouette, he now does the same with what you could call the outside of the painting, the glossy finish (usually varnish or oil). He mixes the oil paint with a high gloss medium, an 'effect' that combines the more opaque look of an oil painting with that of the translucency of a watercolor.
Wildlife, oil & gloss medium on canvas, 160 x 180 cm, 2015
2016 Vrolix starts working on his "White Series”. Although color never disappears completely from the background, traces are left behind in the oil paint that gives the background its own identity (existence), not just a neutral white surface.
Boxes | oil on canvas | 70 x 90 cm | 2016
In 2017, he introduces a new storyline into his work, in a more surrealistic tradition. Or to put it in the artist's words; "If you start with one single subject for all the paintings, instead of for every new painting a different one, how far can you go with that...?"
Portrait Of A Young Girl | oil on canvas | 70 x 100 cm | 2017
For instance, a subject that pops up again and again in his work is the image of the bed.
Waterfall | oil on canvas | 160 x 180 cm | 2017
Depending what the artist is telling us, this one single image can have many meanings. Or even be in several different places and realities.
Endless Lights | oil on canvas | 50 x 60 cm | 2017
The use of the silhouette allows Vrolix to paint a much more psychological portrait then an actual one.
Heavy | oil & gloss medium on canvas | 120 x 150 cm | 2018
And again, the influence of Japanese brush painting is obvious.
During 2014 Guido Vrolix started experimenting with the sculptural interpretation of the silhouette. The first two sculptures, 'Man Behind A Tree' and 'Field of Honor', are made in januari 2015.
Man Behind A Tree, monochromed (maroon) on okoume plywood, 3 x 66 x 80 x 179 cm, 2014
Field Of Honor, monochromed (N7 neutral gray) on Okoume plywood, 3 x 102 x 122 x 160 cm, 2015
According to the artist there are two ways of interpreting the silhouette in a three dimensional form. The first is the monochrome color that serves an obvious goal (historical as well as story wise), but the second is a maybe more interesting one, by letting the actual material the sculpture is made of be a part of the story.
In case of the 'Wolves Pass', the white polystyrene foam can also be interpreted as the frozen snow of a mountain pass.
Wolves Pass, white polystyrene foam sheet, 6 x 100 x 200 x 200 cm, 2015
By the end of the 1980's, he started painting his monumental works, done with oil-acrylic on artificial fur, called 'Tapestry'. He paints the hints into the fur, so entire landscapes, spaces, people and animals appear. Here too the starting point is that of pure color as well as the silhouette.
Blue Last Supper, oil on artificial fur, 135 x 240 cm , 2001
Cornfields, oil on artificial fur, 130 x 180 cm, a summer's evening, studio, 2013
Homeland, oil on artificial fur, 140 x 200 cm , 2009
During the 1990's Guido Vrolix experiments with the artificial fur that he ordinarily uses for his tapestry-paintings. Instead of stretching them like canvas, he designs three-dimensional forms (with needle, thread and filling), after which he finishes them with enamel paint.
The Bed, Enamel on artificial fur, stuffed with synthetic foam, 55 x 80 x 100 cm, 1992
The objects such as 'The Ribbits', 'Sof-a', 'Purrr' and the 'Xpillow', where he's flirting with the boundary between art and kitsch, between high and low culture and exploring the possibility of reproducibility. In other words, the difference between toys (function) and art (content) seems lifted.
X.Pillow, artificiual fur and filling, 20 x 100 x 100 cm
In the special series called 'Sumi', he pushes the silhouette-concept on to a purely poetic level.
Poetry on Plastic, as it were.
A question, or rather the remark, an artist often gets (later in his carrier) is "Like the work, not the price!".
Finding a balance between a for everyone affordable work of art, and some sort of reproduction system that lowers the price to such a degree that it makes that possible.
SUMI, enamel on pvc, 100 x 140 cm, 2012-2015
After several years of experimentation with techniques as well as concepts, he creates the Sumi’s. Paintings done with enamel on pvc and based on the Japanese Sumi-é technique which allows him to make series of works at high speed, very much like screen printing, except they are done by hand and brush.
SUMI, enamel on pvc, 100 x 140 cm, 2012-2015
All have the same measurements and despite the fact that they are unique (or not reproducible if you like), it’s a method that will lower the initial price substantially. And still diverge enough from his normal paintings to justify the now difference in price between them.
After traveling extensively and living off and on in different cities such as Ghent, Paris, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Porto, Cologne, turning thirty, he returns to Ghent, where he lives and works to this day.
At his studio, 2005
During the following years he is worked deeper into his subjects and technics, regardless of any prevailing fashion or style.
Like pimping the three public toilets on the Reeperbahn. He creates the maze 'Cantor' in the Saint-Sauveur Church in Paris (photo), built-handedly a range of theater-dolls to the origami principle, draws in ink the complete Hell of Dante's 'Divine Comedy', writes short stories and novels who he then later converted into paintings and graphic novels, is the creator of 'The Ribbits’ and the blog ‘Our Daily Nobo’ etc…
The Cantor Maze, Espace Saint-Sauveur, enamel on woodpanels, Paris, 2012
Prins Danny (from the Homeless series), Chromaluxe on aluminium, 100 x 150 cm, 1/5, 2016
Drawing and designing on a computer opened up more possibilities than the artist anticipated. For instance, exchanging lines with surfaces (although when they are thin enough they still look like lines), and work with those color surfaces as if they are a collage (in photoshop-terms that would be a layer), the end result is still a detailed image, ideal to draw (or construct) a portrait.
Intrigue (after Ensor), Chromaluxe on aluminium, 110 x 150 cm, 1/5, 2016
But that's just half the story, because the drawing only exist on a hard-disk and not in the real world. The last decade, printing business not only evolved rapidly, it also changed dramatically. Just think of print-on-demand, Giclée print and Chromaluxe*.
El Primero (after Goya), Chromaluxe on aluminium, 110 x 150 cm, 2016
*Chromaluxe knows as basis an aluminum panel, which by means of heat-technique (sublimation) is provided with water-resistant inks to be contained in the back layer. The result of this process is a superior final product that has no equal. Stunning colours, exceptional colour gamut range, colours that really stand out giving an almost 3 dimensional feel to the images, unbelievably durable, very difficult to scratch, 100% water resistant and bleach resistant.
The artist Guido Vrolix has always been fascinated by telling stories since he was a young boy. But because he’s better in drawing than describing things, he started to draw them out.
At first on paper using black (calligraphic) ink, in the 1990s, drawn directly with brush on paper, like 'The Order Of The False Knights', 'The Trial' and 'King Noir'.
Later in color digitally, with the help of a tablet and a computer, starting in the mid 2000s, the ‘Island Of The Flies’, ‘Southie’, ’New Z City', 'The Four Plagues', 'Murder & Maria’, ’Murmur’, 'Van Bevers Square’, 'The Nights’.
He has an eclectic taste, so they include different genres ranging from adaptations, science fiction, fantasy and post-apocalyptic to thriller, historical fiction and true crime. The thing they have in common is of course that they're all graphic novels...
An overview of his graphic novels can be seen on vrolix.graphics Paperback as well as ebook.
There are many ways to tackle reality (in a blog). You can comment in someone else's blog, write one about food, about politics, or even pretend to know everything.
Around 2000 Vrolix suffered a hernia and was, rather painful, bound for weeks lying on his back. Not able to do much work, less alone painting, his start scribbling little note like drawings that later became know as "The Nobo's". It's his way of saying, if you can't do anything about the pain, at least you can laugh about it.
So, when it comes to creating a blog, cartoons seems to him the best language to do it with. After all, Nobo comes from a subtraction of the two words Bonobo Nobodies, as in the absurdity of life.
The blog OUR DAILY NOBO started in September 2016, and as the title suggest, publishes one Nobo a day. Although the artist claims nothing, not even to be funny...
The first series of sculptures the artist starts late 1983, when he decides to make them out of thin trunks of poplar, who are cheap, right!
After a phone call to a lumberjack (they're in the phonebook), who then delivered four trunks of elm with a perimeter of approximately 250 cm!
“A little bigger, as you can see, but for the same price, no worries!”, he said climbing out of his huge truck.
Each trunk is big enough to make at least four sculptures. A year later he does the same, but this time it's chestnut.
Man Standing, chestnut wood, dark stained, 45 x 67 x 213 cm, 1985
Selfportrait (signed:'Ghimar'), oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm, 1983
'Cupido' (23 x 30 cm) is an early work painted around 1975, when he was fourteen or fifteen.