About the artist
Nadine Callebaut (°1958) followed her training at Sint-Lucas in Ghent, she lives and works in her studio in Wingene and has already exhibited in various places in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. For the construction of her paintings Callebaut uses traditional techniques, which she combines with contemporary materials. The basic carrier is often a wooden panel on which marouflages are then applied with washed linework, unprepared canvas or processed paper. The marouflages are applied with a self-prepared acid-free glue and only on small pieces of the work, where a depth view is to be obtained. This is followed by a pre-painting and/or withoging (grisaille). On top of this, one or more marouflages of oil-containing resin-linen paper are applied and the faces are painted in an oil-glazing technique, i.e. painting in fine, transparent oil paint layers in which the basic colours are mixed with a self-prepared medium (transparency), and in which the actual colour on the painting is obtained. This is the same technique that Van Eyck used to obtain perspective and depth. The actual painting is done on special fresco paper on which flowing is not possible, which is why the faces are so detailed. Between the different layers there are different materials such as fabrics and linen to obtain colour, light and shadow. The final layer is tar-resin and wax-varnish, coloured or not.
The starting point for Nadine Callebaut is her own thoughts and experiences, but her intention is to transcend the personal and thus obtain universal human images. Different emotions and everyday reality are thus directly reflected in the work: on the need for human contact and its failure, from the relativity of life, to themes such as violence and transience. The figures are all hurt and motionless, as if they had solidified. Thinking is expressed in an attempt to grasp meanings and portray them through matter. Yet they do not want to look gloomy or desolate, but they do want to emphasize a duality, such as suffering finds its counterbalance in love, threat makes protection possible and the ugly implies the beautiful. Fragmentation is counterbalanced by a new unity, a new balance and a different identity. At the same time Callebaut brings a reflection on the figures versus their inner images: "It is never my intention to make similar nor psychological images of persons, but inner images of the spirit of man. They are not persons with a story, but portraits of a human being confronted with a multitude of confusing feelings, reacting to events in the world, striving for unity, with himself and with his environment". The work arises out of a kind of disunity, by putting together the worries and the hurts in society and in yourself, it can objectify them and restore the connection, the unity. This implies a hollistic approach to things (units, wholes, hollograms). There remains a general fascination with the phenomenon of time and its influence on our memories and experiences. The figures show how time deals with impermanence and their inseparable connection. The work strives for a resting point; the transience, the excess of images, the constant motion inherent in this time and culture must be pushed back until something comes to a permanent standstill. A face that shows nothing more than a few resigned features, but thereby reveals everything.