Stéphane Vereecken is a Belgian contemporary multidisciplinary artist who is most known for his photography and Polaroid works. A collection of his work is up for grabs at the artmejo gallery section and he is December’s Artist of the Month!

Our editors reached out to Vereecken and conducted an interview to learn more about the Belgian artist:

Stéphane Vereecken

Which age did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

In 1995, I started working on my paintings and photographic collages. I was very young at the time. After a while, I realized that my art had to carry a message. So, I began developing my works through painting and photographic collages; I pasted photographs on canvases and square wooden pieces, then painted and drew on them with acrylics.

Tell us a bit about your academic background.

I studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels and other schools. Then I worked at the University of Brussels in Sociology where I had a library at my disposal which inspired me a lot and changed the course of my artistic work.

Stéphane Vereecken, Polaroid paintings, 1996

What is your medium of choice and what makes it so special ?

I like to work with photography and then add on the photographs sketches that symbolize an idea of the transformed image. The relationship between humans and the future. The future body and future immaterial inspires me a lot.

There is also this notion of a free and airy space between the displayed image and the glass in the frame that protects the photograph. This very airy free space is important for my multi-layered work as it creates reflections on the original image from the natural reflections of the glass. I really like the idea that the viewers see themselves in the window, thus participating in the intrinsic nature of the artwork. The almost naturalistic treatment that I give to most of my photographs, makes the viewer feel like watching an archive or news photograph.

What was your first exhibition ?

My very first exhibition was when I was a student at the age of 17 at a restaurant. But my first exhibition in a gallery (Galerie Damasquine – Brussels ) was when I was 26 years old. In the group show, I was an emerging artist in the midst of well-known artists, with my small format of Polaroids and my drawings. It was a fantastic experience.

How have you developed as an artist ?

I experimented between drawing, painting and video until finally, I focused only on photography. I can do a lot of things with photography. My ideas are ones developed to be reproduced through photography in a way that makes them relatable to the largest possible number of people. That said, my images do have a mysterious aspect as well.

But for future steps, I really want to fill a volume and do video sculpture. I would like in the near future to put my images to motion like film and video.

How is your art relevant to this time and age?

I’m in my forties and I see a world that I do not like every day. I was born in a time when we were talking about the global crisis, and forty years later …nothing has changed. An artist, with his art and his images, always hopes to change the world in which he lives. If my Rabid Animals series moves and positively affects a single viewer, I would consider myself having won something.

Who are you inspired by ?

As a child, it was the artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci who interested me. To me the Mona Lisa is a perfect ‘photograph’. And Jerome Bosch remains a great influential master to me well. Later on, I became more interested in artists with sensitive and particular worlds like Ralph Eugene Meatyard, David Lynch or more recently the Greek director Yórgos Lánthimos and his surrealist universe.

What are you inspired by ?

I read the newspapers and watch the news every morning. I read the comments on the publications on the web, and this gives me an overview of the present moment. In this way, my art is very current and timely, especially the two series Family and White Wall.

The Garden series is more personal, it reflects a personal sense of the place in society that today is reserved for people who do not have all their physical abilities or people who are disabled. I was born with Spina Bifida and my survival is a miracle because I had surgery at birth. Through The Garden, I wanted to share my experience to the world.

What do you aim to achieve through your art ?

Through my Rabid Animals series, I explore the relationship between human beings and bestiality. A universe of reality and also of surrealism. An image is photographed and is also painted and drawn on. I explore the human body -which is no longer an inert object- using the figure itself as a medium where the drawings on it express the possibility of future life. A life possible or impossible to achieve. There is humor in my surrealistic images, but also doubt and a darker reflection. I leave the keys to the spectators for an intimate interpretation too. But the secret and the intellectual sense of my images are before your eyes.

Own artwork by Stéphane Vereecken from the artmejo online gallery

All images courtesy of the artist.