Stefan Bleekrode|Eindhoven, Netherlands
Stefan Bleekrode is a young, self taught artist who creates hyper realistic drawings and paintings of urban landscapes. His compositions are constructed through a combination of memory and imagination. In the following piece, Stefan introduces his work and process.
Artist Statement : Most of my paintings can best be described as snapshots of things I’ve seen when traveling or just going through my everyday routine, small bits of beauty in familiar settings. Often this initial idea comes in through the backdoor, and after a while I turn these ideas, combined with a good bit of my own imagination into fully worked out paintings. The fascination for a particular idea that compels me to undertake the task of composing these compositions is entirely subject to the emotional value and scenery of the initial idea. Most of my paintings are set in the everyday (sub)urban settings of North America (particularly the North East) or western Europe. Not only do I feel attracted to the (urban) landscape or the particular 19th century architecture, conveying a mood of lost glory and teetering on the brink of decay, above all it’s the quality of the light;bright and clear in America or soft and subdued in Europe that adds to me an almost surreal and cinematographic dimension. Light is the one single thing many of my paintings revolve about. In the absence of daylight I greatly rejoice as well in working out the intricate patterns of artificial light in deserted streets at night. full statement
"My drawings cannot be thought of as separate from my paintings because the scenes that inspire my drawings are often also worked out in detail in a painting. Usually the subjects are simple, everyday urban scenery such as a subway station, sunlight on a street, specific architectural elements (a balcony or bricks), or buildings as a whole. Occasionally it’s a square or avenue surrounded by architecture that I enjoy depicting.
What sets the drawings apart from the paintings however, is that fact that I always try to draw the whole picture and leave as little out as possible. Although drawn extremely finely, there is even room for dustbins, phone booths and benches out in the streets. Just as in an existing city, I feel my imaginary cities have to be as complete as possible. To enhance this sense of realism I attempt to make most of my recent drawings resemble black and white photographs. This again is deceptive. None of the drawings (nor the paintings) were based on photos. All of my work comes from memory. It is a culmination of impressions found traveling through America and Europe.
This is a short introduction to what attracts me to the urban landscape––the endless diversity, the beautiful and the ugly, and the endless opportunities the urban landscape offers me to idealize. I can add or leave out everything I love or loathe when drawing. It allows me to turn the process of drawing into a somewhat tame, but nonetheless pleasant venture into a new city or neighborhood of an existing city.
When I get an idea that excites me, I usually just pencil it down in my sketchbook. Sometimes right away, sometimes weeks, months or even a year later, I start working. First a pencil sketch on firm 300 grams ivory colored paper, then a few ink lines. I always use Talens East Indian Ink and Conté Atome pens. If I like it I'll continue and slowly but surely the work takes shape over the course of several weeks or sometimes up to half a year. For shading, I always use Winsor and Newton Ivory black watercolour paint. Often while working on a drawing I add and remove already planned buildings or streets to enhance perspective and the overall sense of composition.
I'm entirely self taught in both drawing and painting and with a very few exceptions all work was created from memory."