Artist creates history

Rinus Van de Velde

A fictional history, partly true and partly made up, is what Rinus Van de Velde depicts in this monumental charcoal drawing. The artist slash pseudo-historian digs into the past in search of biographical details of real characters, which he mixes with a good dose of fantasy. His creations form several series of separate stories that are interconnected, making Van de Velde's work into an encompassing universe.

His drawings suggest distant journeys in time and space, even though Van de Velde does not travel much. He is an adventurer within the walls of his studio: the laboratory of ideas where works of art will spring from photographic material, staged settings and overflowing imagination. Charcoal is pastily applied with tactile strokes and lines in black and white, creating dramatic fragments with a cinematographic touch, tending towards a documentary.

Rinus Van de Velde - "Untitled" (2010)

Portrait of Vladimir Mayakovksy by Alexander Rodchenko in 1924

The present work is part of Van de Velde's series about the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930). In the period preceding the October Revolution, Mayakovsky was a prominent figure in Futurism. From 1917 he will support the Communist Party in his writings. After his (disputed) suicide, Joseph Stalin will praise him as “the best and most talented poet of our Soviet era.”

Caspar David Friedrich - "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" (around 1818)

Van de Velde threads suggestions and references to arrive at a unique form of visual storytelling. Does this drawing show peak Mayakovsky? The summit over 6,000 meters high located in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan got his name in 1947 by Soviet mountaineers in honor of the poet. At the same time, the composition hints at the iconic mountain view of the German romantic Caspar David Friedrich. “Untitled” (2010) contains many layers in which fact and fiction enter into dialogue, invoking the viewer's collective memory and capacity for imagination.