p a i n t e d _ i m a g e s

Painted images and Photography: When painting relies on digital media (III)

by Liv Vaisberg

Posted on Ponyhoffreshpaint – 06/09/2011

EBERHARD HAVEKOST works as many of his con-temporaries at the intersection between photography and painting, abstraction and representation. He bases his work on preexisting pictures (photographs or video found around, in films, on the internet or made by himself), like many do. What I find interesting is that he digitally reworks the images he finds or takes in order to distance the final painted work towards the original source. But most interestingly, it also reveals the interdependence between the traditional medium of painting and new digital media and techniques. Painting, which claims a regained privileged status towards the overabundance of photographs and films also seems to need to build on them.  And Havekost is not the only one to work like this!

Eberhard Havekost (2010) Flatscreen 2 (1,2,3) B 10, oil on linen, each 109 x 69 cm (Courtesy Robert & Tilton)

Eberhard Havekost re-works digitally images by reducing, enlarging, cropping, stretching and even blurring them. His painted images essentially mimic conventions of photography in their use of close-ups and cropping. However, the image is always recognisable and identifiable, the process is rather subtle and is never so extreme to distort completely the images.  His choice of images seem random and of a deliberate banality. In the vein of Luc Tuymans, Havekost seeks to reinforce the idea that images remain indeed just a representation of reality, no matter how real they seem.

Similarly but with a completely different goal and result, Wouter van de Koot also digitally reworks images that he originally took himself or had taken. He re-enacts a emotional event, such as the birth of his son, by staging himself in position evoking this event. The picture is a first time painted to reproduce it quite accurately and skillfully in watercolour, oil or indian ink. But then he developed a process of reworking the same images again and again, cutting and taping parts, scanning and enlarging them, turning them black and white, modifying the colours to obtain in the end an image highly distanced from the source image. This process enables the artist to destitute the image of its emotional charge and treat it as an object.

rooted, oil on canvas, 120x105 cm, 2011

Wouter van de Koot, Rooted, oil on canvas,120 x 105 cm., 2011

This reliance of painting on digital techniques is even more perceptible in the work of Jens Hesse which use digitally distorted image to distance himself from reality and show the shortcomings of the flawless digital world in which we are plunged. He often uses curdoroy or other relief  material to render the LCD vertical lines whilst giving thick brushstrokes at some point to remind that it is a painting with all of its subjectivity and not a simple representation of the image.


Jens Hesse, Bathers, oil on curdoroy, 195 x 110 cm., 2010