In the 2000s, Weemaels’ preferred medium was dry pastels, which he made himself. Working in large formats, he blended them into myriad subtle tones in his depictions of upside-down nudes, which reflect remarkable explorations in how to visually render skin, with the subtle chromatic variations and ashy highlights that characterise his work.
Another of his favourite subjects is the everyday objects in his studio, bathed in Northern light as cold and powdery as snow. It might be some simple bowls placed on a table with a few flowers scattered nearby, some small boxes, or the chair that often appears in his compositions – in the foreground of the picture, or reflected in a mirror, or perhaps a dark jacket left hanging on a wall.
Although he has worked exclusively in oil in recent years, he hasn’t strayed from the colour palette — subdued, veiled, filtered, poetic and indefinable — that has become a hallmark of his work.
Like Hammershoi, Andrew Wyeth and Antonio Lopez Garcia, he explores a solitary, meditative atmosphere in his work. He isn’t interested in today’s provocative diktats. On the contrary, his approach to art is more introspective; for him, painting isn’t about perturbing the beholder, but rather about teaching us how to "see" beyond the simple appearances of reality, with the subject providing sufficient means to do so.
His art speaks of stillness, absence, emptiness, silence, transience, even starkness…
The artist digs deep on his path of solitude and rigour, seemingly untouched by the outside world, as if painting were the only thing capable of relieving his inner anguish.
Mathieu Weemaels was born in Brussels in 1967 and studied at École de La Cambre. He lives and works in Belgium.
His boldly cropped compositions are intensified by the presence of mirrors, whose abstract shapes create new realities and immerse us in an alluring, meditative space for contemplation. The eye of the beholder can make out some of the soothing and quizzical "moments of grace," that exist behind appearances.