Strook Goes to the Streets of Ghent for "Portrait of a Human Being" Inspired by Van Eyck
Did you know that a Belgian city is celebrating famed painter Jan van Eyck all 2020 long (and now extended through 2021)? Joining the events and activities of the van Eyck year in Ghent, Strook recently revealed a new public piece inspired by, and honoring, one of the greatest Flemish Masters. Commissioned by the city where one of most significant representatives of Early Northern Renaissance art created his world-famous masterpiece, the Ghent Altarpiece at Sint-Baafskathedraal, Strook went to the streets and created a diptych titled Portrait of a Human Being.
Known for his abstracted figure-based assemblages made from found wood, Strook's visual language has very few artistic connectiuons with van Eyck, himself an early innovator of what became known as Early Netherlandish painting. Yet, Strook borrowed the diagonal ways that the old master played with spaciousness, kept his composition simple, and through clever use of different types of wood, created an effective illusion of depth and perspective. He broke the image into two individual sections, creating a sense of dialogue between two people facing each other or one person looking in the mirror.
Keeping his subject ambiguous, without any features or expressions, the narrative of the work is merely suggested by the posture of the character(s), giving it a universal reading and understanding, as suggested in the title of the work. As usual in his practice, the Belgian artist created the piece from the wood salvaged from the actual location where the work is installed, successfully using the natural patina of the weathered wood as his subdued palette and its rich grains and marks as unique brushwork. —Sasha Bogojev