lunes, 8 de agosto de 2016


Poen de Wijs

Poen de Wijs (Dutch artist) 1948 - 2014
Serengeti, 1998
oil on panel
45 x 60 cm.
signed Poen de Wijs
private collection

A painting by Poen de Wijs makes an enduring impression, on friend and foe alike. His work is immediately identifiable, with its impact-making style, its composition and, in particular, realistic depiction. Poen de Wijs is a modern-day realist: his paintings are never nostalgic and are populated with contemporary figures and objects. Style and technique are the fundamental, inseparable elements of his visual language. Their development also follows a parallel course, meaning that, to be understood, they must be seen together. This development is largely generated by restlessness. Poen de Wijs is constantly searching for new ways of achieving the increasingly complicated challenges he sets himself. He began painting in oils in 1984. His aim was to translate the softness and light of his watercolours into oil, which is of course an entirely different medium. He has remarked that 'painting is just a trade'. With that he means he does not spend all day with his head in the clouds, playing with paint, but that, for him, painting requires planning and practical experience - practice makes perfect, at all stages of the creative process. He starts with a photo, enabling him to study movement and determine the right composition. He concentrates with his sketches, preliminary studies and drawings on the essentials of who, what and where. That results in a life-size working drawing. Oil paint, traditionally, is applied in layers. Originally for reasons of economy, when the expensive paint was made up in the studio in the required (small) amounts. Nowadays it is chiefly for correcting purposes. But for Poen de Wijs the application of layers has artistic considerations: one for the form, one for the light and one or several layers for colour. He uses different supports: canvas for large work and wood for smaller. He prepares both with an acrylic-based primer. Then the working drawing is traced on. The under-painting entails modelling in the volumes and the less extreme areas of light and shadow. His use of acrylic is reminiscent of tempera painting - a 'hatching' technique is used to apply the paint. It adds liveliness and sparkle to the work, which Poen de Wijs further reinforces with experiments in fine structures. Whatever technique he has used, the monochrome underpainting is always prominent in the painting. The next step is the application of the oils, with careful addition of colour and some detail, yet all is still semi-transparent and the underpainting still shows through. So much is taking place at this complex stage. This is where the painter displays his skill, in the infinite scope of the built-up layers, from opaque to semi- or fully transparent. Poen de Wijs has long mastered these skills, and yet he is constantly in a process of asking new technical questions - the answers to which influence his painting style, leading in turn to new technical questions. This interaction of style and technique is typical of Poen de Wijs's method: “it takes two to tango!”

Text: Tableau, November 1998 by Hayo Menso de Boer

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