While visiting a friend in Addis Ababa back in 2000, I got the feeling of being in a place that was familiar to my western customs, and at the same time completely strange and alien to everything that I had experienced before. This trip to Ethiopia, the land of the sources of the Nile and various other historical oddities, mysteries, and traditions, made me consider moving abroad, to live and work in a new unexplored land.

Rider (2010) - (110 x 130 cm) Acrylic on canvas

The act of moving and having that experience of encountering new situations and people in a different location was going to be the raison d’être of my own personal (self-inflicted) diaspora. Not seldom, do artists living in exile try to make art in search of a certain identity. Raw but honest they observe, feel, introspect, and find connections in their surroundings. The fact of being present in a different, strange, or barely-known society pushes them to explore, and look for familiar things they can or want to relate to.

“Poésie, risque, amour. Un visage se répète en bouquets.”

René Creval

“The head is a landscape. A world rather. Or even a universe. It can represent all these things, and as such is an expression of the human soul.”

Marwan Kassab-Bachi

Presence vs appearance

Bart D. is not a painter of people (persons) but a painter of presences. It’s an act of resistance to paint presences in these times when more and more things are just external appearances (advertising, movies, internet).

Here also, Bart D. uses every pretext to present his figures, not as articulated bodies, but as looming shapes. The human figure is shown enacting the feelings and emotions the image is intended to convey, and representations of it, acting are sufficient to embody abstractions such as love and war and folly and fear.

Although his paintings know well that this is a society of the spectacle, once they are shown to the public or even placed on a website they will become appearances themselves.

Related work

Theme I: Pearl Divers

Theme IV: The Couple