A new adventure... Lees in het nederlands
"China Impressions II" Gartner&Partner Gallery, from 27 November to 31 December 2003


“You can call me a painter in the rough”, Chimel grins as he punctiliously modifies a 1m50² canvas with a spatula. It is beyond doubt that he refers to his early days as a painter. His artistic side came to the surface after some experimentation with paint in the margin of an existence as a travelling sales agent and businessman. Not before long, the impetuous man enlists in a local art competition in Wuustwezel. With flowers and bright colours, he manages to trick the jury. This in spite of the fact that Chimels’ dabbing has nothing whatsoever to do with academic techniques ; he only does whatever his gut feeling tells him to. The work that has gained him the first prize of the Wuustwezel city council is called “Deep Blue Flower Impression”. It’s all about ordinary flowers in bright, complementary colours that, according to the jury, have an “oriental twist” nonetheless.

Works like “Black Skyline” and “Blue Horizon” follow suit. The flowers are back to square one. Chimel aims to force stripes and feather-light brush strokes into space. Warm and dark colours are interjected with shades of brightness. But there’s no talk of moodiness. On the contrary. The works that follow express strength, motivation, a fighting spirit, impetus.

“Old and new China” are put on the scene. Impressions and thoughts are steadily becoming form. Two worlds, two extremes. Oriental? Perhaps. More conscious? Certainly. More certain? That as well. Chimel grows. His enthousiasm works. Occasionally, someone doesn’t try to hide his admiration. It strengthens Chimels’ urge to get through to feelings. Recognition, but also coherence. Sacrificing intimacy to the spectators standing on the sideline. A quiet request to enter his inner world.

Cimel openly “converts” to Asia. This is based on early travel experiences. On the antique markets of Beijing and Shanghai he buys old scrolls with calligraphic funeral texts and family portraits of officials of the Qing dynasty that date back to the 16th century. Instinctively, he knows that he must continue with these.

Calligraphy means “the art of writing”. The calligraphist has attention for space and beauty. Includes a message. And word and image need to merge in harmony. In calligraphy, a wide pen is being used that can be handled in several directions. The pen is derived from the goose feather that was used for this art form in times long gone.

In China, the art of painting and script are closely connected. In Chinese calligraphy, the ‘painting of thoughts’ manifestly stands on the foreground. Chinese calligraphists, who need to know about 40.000 characters after all, think of ‘inspiration’ as the most important factor. The ‘mood of the painter’ reigns supreme. The artist mentally prepares for a work. He will for instance stare at a landscape for three consecutive days before raising his brush. His work does not show a story, rather an idea.

Chinese calligraphy is seen as the art of emptiness. This emptiness, in other words the things that are not included, is by far the hardest part. Creating a maximum of mental values with a minimum of means is of the utmost importance. Calligraphy, poetry and painting were known in China as the three perfections. These arts are generally combined in the form of a poetically inspired landscape painting, with a beautiful calligraphy in a collumn on one margin.

The “China Impression II period” has now come. During the last months, Chimel has focussed on the multiple layers of space and the intensity of colours. By glueing the family portraits, communication is emerging on the foreground as it has never done before. Past and present find their balance. Experiences and emotions have roots. The antique canvasses become glued pieces on a canvas. Shades of red and yellow are the anchors. The stripe, or girder, and the feather-light strokes are also to be found in the composition. A thrive for esthetics, for balance in space. For quiet. The quest starts making sense.

The inner-self becomes openness, dabbing becomes feeling, impressions become expressions. Chimel has arrived. With certainty also comes uncertainty, with the flamboyant joy, fear. A turning point.

Erika Claessens Antwerpen, 9 november 2003