Pakhuis, Ghent, Belgium
When creating a portrait, the traditional approach involves capturing a likeness of the model, aiming for resemblance and recognition. However, Piet Van seeks to distance himself from this conventional method. While he still desires to paint figures, he no longer wants to be constrained by the reliance on photos or models. His goal is to have the freedom to manipulate the works, to explore and challenge the boundaries of representation.
To achieve this, Piet begins with existing photographs of women, comparing and contrasting features across different ethnicities and nationalities. He examines the nuances of noses, eyes, chins, and figures, creating a collage that seamlessly merges these elements without revealing its composite nature to the viewer. It is not a caricature but a harmonious combination, blending the most beautiful aspects of various feminine characteristics from around the world. Through this process, he has crafted 25 idealized women, each intended to cater to diverse tastes. Piet's aim is for every individual to find their own preferences reflected in these women. His exhibition sought to ensure that not a single man would leave without encountering beauty. Surprisingly, many visitors perceived the black women as portraits of Naomi Campbell, even though there was no direct reference to her.
Throughout this project, Piet Van undergoes a transformative journey. In his latest works, he experiments with leaving certain parts simply painted in white, devoid of shadow. However, he admits that creating multiple works with similar concepts proves to be challenging for him.