Close to Ensor and Permeke, the painter Henri-Victor Wolvens (1896-1977) devoted his career to the infinite variations of light, colour and material. At his Brussels debut, he was secluded in a monochrome world of dark and muted shades. But the North Sea inspired an explosion of colour with an everlasting force. A sparkling exhibition to dazzle your eyes this summer.
I painted a water jet, a large canvas where I finally summoned up this magic ... something that goes beyond painting or water vapour, a crowning moment. It was that part of the earth in all its glory, reaching to the sky then crashing, scattering. Gleaming water trickling, dazzling firework water, luminescent. A Eureka moment! This was it, it was beyond painting, it was light. […] Oh light that makes everything beautiful! ... The light ... Is it golden? Blue? Silver? This is no colour ... It happens and transfigures.
He loved clay, he liked the colour. He loved life, the passing days, children, crowds. He loved sunshine and the sea.
Throughout his life, Henri-Victor Wolvens painted the same subjects from a variety of starting points, pleasures and emotions. And if in the beginning, he favoured dark tones, deep browns and blacks, his palette brightened as he travelled, inspired by the knowledge and excitement he found on the way.
Holidays in the South of France flooded his canvas with a frenzied exuberance reminiscent of Van Gogh, whom he admired. From the North Sea he miraculously extracted the hidden shimmers of a radiant light.
As a colourist, Wolvens implied the essence of his subjects and was never afraid to confront the earth’s restless colours, aromas and spirit.
He viewed the crowds as mobile scenery on the beaches of the North Sea and appreciated them as much as the sky, sand, sun and summer sensations, exploiting tones and pulsations of changing light. Wolvens was equally interested in off-season abandoned beaches with its solitary individuals, children and old men.
His portraits of the elderly date back to his early work, demonstrating the emotional gaze of those with an expression showing a life lived and a life passed by.
With his life ahead of him, he experienced his first conquered joys and learned to externalise jubilation in candid tones.
A painter at heart, Henri-Victor Wolvens was also, in essence, a painter of the soul.
His energetic paintings are evidence of a sensitive artist making his small and modest mark on the world, without any need for ostentatiousness.
Rohger Pierre Turine, curator
Museum van Elsene - Henri-Victor Wolvens. From darkness to light - 25.06.2015-20.09.2015
Website & source : Museum van Elsene NL - FR - EN
Website : Elsene NL - FR
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