Brecht Vandenbroucke’s images are such a fresh and direct look at contemporary life that maybe only a young man raised on a farm in Belgium could make them. While still in art school in Ghent, Vandenbroucke’s painted and drawn works began to attract attention as he posted them online, and he began work on a long-term project called White Cube. A comic, now available in hardcover in the U.S. from Drawn and Quarterly, that speculates about how we experience art. Just don’t call it a graphic novel, that’s way too pretentious.
One wouldn't be out of line to presume that Vandenbroucke spends a fair amount of time on the Internet. Or perhaps he really spends a very normal amount of time online and just documents and processes that experience in his artwork in a memorable way. The graphics, icons and even the frames through which we experience the digital world—and how that changes our experience of regular flesh and blood life—all leap out with dramatic dimension in Vandenbroucke’s distinctive line and color. –Caleb Neelon
Caleb Neelon: Related to that, what kind of creative path did you take to get to the work you are doing now? Do you look back at your childhood drawings and see similarities with your current work in terms of interests and subject matter?
Brecht Vandenbroucke: I always try to make what I want to see in the world, and what I think needs to be said. I guess and hope that’s what every artist does. In my work, I try to look at the world as if it were the first time. I think that's the beauty about being a child—everything is new. As you get older, you can get numb from the repetition of daily life. You've seen it all before. I try to fight that and keep asking questions.
Pop culture is my roots and the reason why I started drawing. I drew a lot of silly comics when I was a kid, but it's because I didn't know any better. I was emulating what I saw. I guess it's all about your world, your perception and your reference frame getting bigger as the years pass. As a child, I was obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman, and that’s what got me drawing. I learned about Bosch and Hockney and Andy Warhol when I was 15. I want to embrace all of that in my work. It's not this or that—it’s and, and, and…
I recently found a photo of a Streetfighter 2 background and characters I made of cardboard when I was four or five. We couldn't have a Super Nintendo, so I made one out of cardboard, including the controllers. And I just made a painting with some Streetfighter characters and backgrounds in them. So I think I am still doing the exact same thing that I was doing as a kid.
The September 2014 issue of Juxtapoz Magazine is on sale now.