Inge Vandormael, Alexiou in Deviantart, is a surrealist artist that creates wonderful works with a limited palette. Her works also include portraits of people that have had an impact on the word, artistic or otherwise, but always with a nice surrealist touch. She has amazed me with her fine intellect and wits, and when asked she would tell you that she speaks five languages.
Lately she has been working on a project about child abuse which has captured me from the beginning, even raw and brutal it also is beautifully and creatively composed.
I had the honor of interviewing Inge last month; let’s see what she has to say. I hope to interest you in this great artist, and please drop by her gallery and see her wonderful art.
When and how did you become a surrealist? Where you always a surreal artist, or did the style develop over time?
I don’t think I made the conscious decision to become a surreal artist. Surrealism just gave me the opportunity to express what was going on in that good ol’ brain of mine. It became an outlet for the personal situations in my life, positive and/or negative. I suppose you could say that I grew into the style.
Who were the major influences in your artistic career?
The first artist that really caught my attention was Salvador Dali. I must have been 17 at the time. I went through a period where the only art books I opened were about Dali. And then there is Frida Kahlo. How I look up to this woman. Her art is so raw and filled with emotion. I am also an avid collector of graphic novels, created by among others David Mack. I would say that he definitely has a great influence on my latest project.
Here are a few artists that I admire greatly: James Jean, Chris Mars, Chris Ware, Dave Mc Kean, Ralph Steadman, Julie Doucet, Jeffrey Brown, Craig Thompson, Ekundayo, Mark Ryden, Danny Roberts, Manon Gosselin, Gris Grimly … There are truly too many amazingly talented artists out there to mention them all.
Surrealism has been associated with death and decay, which is a logical association for most people. However, your works are a mixture of death and beauty. How do these two things come together for you?
Death doesn’t necessarily equal decay. It can equal beauty as well, or a new beginning. I’m mostly driven by questions that keep me occupied in daily life. What awaits us when our life ends here on earth? How do we undergo our transformation from a pupa to a full grown butterfly, to a life unknown? Is our path on earth stippled out before we even take our first breath? Is there something as a higher power, or is that just a creation by human kind to have something to fall back on in difficult times? Or we finite or infinite creatures?
Immortality. Mortality. Transformation. Metamorphosis.
Those are the keywords.
The major themes in your oeuvre seem to be eyes, skulls, flowers, and insects. Is there a reason why?
These themes are all symbolic, and do indeed re-occur in most of my paintings. Each element has a meaning for me, and I try to stay true to that. The eyes can either signify the all-knowing, the higher power, or certain feelings. The butterflies carry a special meaning for me. They are the symbol of metamorphosis, a new beginning, a sudden or well-thought out change. Whereas the flowers signify a new life, the skulls and bones signify the end of a stage, the end of a period in life.
I notice that you work with a limited palette. How does this help to enhance your artistic expression?
Using a limited palette started as a necessity. When I started getting art material together for my first paintings, I picked up 4 tubes of watercolor paints. I was surprised to see what I could accomplish with such a limited color palette. Now it has become such a habit to use just those colors, that the use of any other colors actually makes me anxious. I am not sure if it helps me enhance my artistic expression, but it surely feels comfortable.
You also use words in your artwork. Do you think of words as part of graphic art too?
To me, words are an important part of graphic art. I choose to use words because I see it as one of my tools. My words are an integral part of my graphics.
I’ve been fascinated by one of your projects about a girl that is molested by her parents. Can you tell me about your project? Why did you decide to work on such an edgy topic?
My academic background gave me access to numerous research papers on the subject matter. I was also deeply affected by stories relayed to me by people that are close to me. I realized that incest is prevalent in our culture, and won’t go away. We are all exposed to it in literature, the media, and so forth, but remain uninvolved. We remain the reader, the viewer. I felt it needed to be presented in a more engaging way. I wished to integrate the viewer into the story, and engage him/her.
How did the ideas come together?
The ideas came from stories I heard, research papers I read, the media, music. This project has been in the works long before it made it to canvas. I first wrote the entire story line, and decided later on that it might be a good idea to illustrate it.
Does the fact that you treat each vignette as a single piece of art affect the quality of the work?
It was my decision as an artist to make it more comprehensive. The character is a collection of stories I heard, but I rather told it through the eyes of one character. I thought it important that the viewer only needed to identify with one person, instead of multiple characters.
Why did you decide to tell the story as if the viewers were the main character and you were telling them what was happening to them?
I wanted to integrate the viewer into the story. I found it deeply traumatic to experience the feelings I had when putting together the story line. I wanted the viewer to experience this set of feelings, make the viewer part of it, instead of just looking at/reading it.
I like to see how you integrate the blocks of words to the composition, leading the eye around the canvas. How did this occur to you?
The story is a visual experience. The emotions and graphics bead together the visual experience and the story. It exposes the viewer to the entire image, and helps me convey the emotions that come with the story. The story is the visual.
Why do you use wooden dummies to represent the people? Sometimes though you choose to represent the poor heroine as a real person. Is there a reason for that?
The abusers are presented as people devout of soul. They remain the same throughout the story. And while the heroine comes from the same family, is cut out of the same material, she evolves throughout the story, and will eventually break free.
Are you hoping to publish it?
My wish for this project is to find a publisher for it. I would love to see it in book form. A showing in a gallery would of course also be amazing. We’ll see where it ends up.
How Inge is seen by other artists:
She has been my friend on this site and on breed art for a long time. I met her in 2004. We have collaborated together and had many great conversations. She has a unique style and she is a really great person.
I’m a huge fan of Inge’s art… so much in fact that I have one of her paintings tattooed on my stomach.
I’ve known Inge Vandormael through the magic of the Internet for some years now, in my view to say that Inge is a controversial artist would be too broad a statement and too thin a skin for her to wear, her beautifully crafted conceptual work is indeed deep meaning and relevant to us all, not many artists can put claim to that, her passion and courage as well as her humanity are clearly main ingredients in her work, for me her creativity and heart know absolutely no frontiers…I suspect the incredible artwork and concepts that we have been so privileged to view thus far are merely surface dust to what is yet to come…I for one