Short biography and introduction to his work:
Eric Itschert was born in 1954 in Overijse, Belgium. In 1978, he obtained his certificate of architecture at the Ecole Supérieure d’Architecture Saint-Luc in Brussels. Beyond his architectural studies, which taught him design and perspective, Eric did not pursue any other academic art studies: the secret of his technique lies elsewhere. While still in secondary school, Eric followed oil painting classes with the painter Georges Lambillotte. However, it is above all through his tuition in icon painting with renowned masters (at St Serge in Paris in the summer of 1973, with Bernard Frinking in 1986 and 1987 and on Paros in the Cyclades in 1989), that Eric acquired the ancestral technique of tempera painting, long forgotten in art academies. Thus, the artist has produced architectural and iconographic works, paintings and illustrations (at Editions Louis Musin).
1992 First foundations for “constructive blue symbolism”.
“His most original work undoubtedly starts in 1992 with large figurative paintings, full of details and symbolism. It is during that same year that he laid the first foundations for “constructive blue symbolism”. The viewer’s first impression is the very particular blue colour, the importance of the human being’s presence, the frequent representation of the aquatic element and of the labyrinth, the search for an ideal of beauty “in view of the restoration of the image of man”.
It is a kind of realistic painting that does not exclude a certain idealisation. The works of Eric Itschert are populated with human beings, often naked; they are conscious of both the life and death that awaits us all. His persons, often androgynous characters, are in harmony with a peculiar environment. Above all, Eric Itschert paints beauty as if it were immobilised for a single moment. His world is the one that we guess exists behind the mirror.”
1995 Paintings on the theme of swimming pools
In parallel to this mythological theme, the painter started a new series of paintings on the theme of swimming pools in 1995. This series led him to develop his blues, of which the secrets of his technique are a product of his travels to Paros. Because of his love for swimming, not a single swimming pool he encountered on his journey escaped his visit and he knows them “from within”.
1997 The painter confronts his paintings with art installations and with viewing boxes.
In 1997 he exhibited a series of paintings in Antwerp where he introduced the theories of “constructive blue symbolism”: in one and the same exhibit he combines trends of the most antinomic art. The painter confronts his works with figurative, detailed and realistic paintings, with art installations and with viewing boxes. Most of the latter are done on the model of what has originally been painted (the conceptualist notion). The confrontation calls up a symbolic reading of the whole.
With regards to the confrontation of installation-painting, these were made well before the works of Martin Eder (School of Fine Arts in Dresden), who started in Germany from 2001 onwards. The visualisation of objects in the paintings is a reflection on the “Magrittian” concept “this is not a pipe!”
To actually put those objects back in their boxes reaffirms ” . . but that is really a pipe!” In connection with “that is not a pipe”, the blue symbolism suggests an alternative reading rehabilitating the image:
“We can build sand castles knowing that they will not last as long as their image or even their photograph. They are illustrations of the brevity of our own life. Every game has an importance of initiative and psychology. Its essence leads it to its own brevity. The paradox of the image is to be able to survive its prototype: the sand castle may have disappeared long ago, the child who has built it will have become an old person and only a fragile and yellowing photograph will have remained, an image of a child building a sand castle . . .”
Thus the theme of memory and time is already implicitly reached at that time: the sand castle will not last but for several hours, the childhood for several years, the photograph or the drawing is perhaps destined to last for a century and the painting, executed with the techniques used before the impressionist movement, maybe several centuries. Of course, the making thereof is that of a real sand castle.
Less is no more !
This confrontation, apparently innocent among drawings, paintings and a “minimalist” set-up, is not in favour of the latter; moreover, it “short circuits” it and destroys the prejudice that has been inflicted upon us for years: “less is more”. That idea has poisoned the art of painting and has been pushed to the absurd by the painter Yves Klein in his “Exposition of the Empty” in 1958 at the Gallery Iris Clert, where he presented an exposition in an empty room with non-existent paintings. After that “remake” of the old story about the emperor and his clothes nothing else was left for Yves Klein but to turn back and to show a little more.
Still in 1997, the Reinold Ketelbuters Gallery reengaged Eric Itschert and kept on following him until the closure of the Gallery in 2002. Reinold Ketelbuters gave preference to the painted works of the artist. When several of his paintings were exhibited in 2002 in the Gallery, Eric began a series of other paintings of an intimate nature, abandoning little by little the dominant blues. Certain titles started getting longer, playing on the dialectics between text and image.
2006, Memory and time, exhibition at the Fondation Isabelle Masui.
About the exhibition:
« The painter Eric Itschert exhibits for four days a series of paintings in oil, in acrylic and in tempera which will further deepen his reflections on memory and time. It is to some extent an imaginary museum, where detailed, figurative and realistic paintings are being confronted with monochromatic ones, to new art installations and to viewing boxes. This exhibition take place at the Fondation Isabelle Masui, a place already touched by history. The paintings have been as much conceived to last, the objects are as much fragile, frankly even perishables. The question regarding time and memory is also posed within the manufacture of the works: the setting up of pine cones takes only some hours, the time to collect them, to dry and arrange them, the creation of a painting can take several months. To be complete, please also note again that not only the visible participates at the exposition: also evoked are the smell of pine trees and cypresses, the sounds of the sea . . . »