AR­TISTS FROM ELSWHERE

Rol­land Pal­maerts

Magazin'Art - - Summary - Isa­belle Gau­thier

Well known to art lo­vers, Ro­land Pal­maerts' bo­dy of work leaves no-one in­dif­ferent. With a flou­ri­shing ca­reer of more than thir­ty years, the ener­ge­tic Bel­gian ar­tist is the per­so­ni­fi­ca­tion of pas­sion pur­sued with conti­nuous­ly re­ne­wed crea­tion, cons­tant ar­tis­tic im­pli­ca­tion and a de­ter­mi­na­tion to trans­cend li­mits.

In wa­ter­co­lour, acry­lic or mixed me­dia, Ro­land Pal­maerts ne­ver he­si­tates to ex­plore mat­ter to de­pict his vi­sion. The cons­tant pre­sence of glo­rious ligh­ting ef­fects that trans­port the ob­ser­ver bet­ween dream and rea­li­ty is one of the cha­rac­te­ris­tic fea­tures of his work. To him, light is a re­flec­tion of spi­ri­tua­li­ty, an ex­plo­ra­tion of the life and death dua­li­ty that is ex­pres­sed with strong contrasts. In sub­stance or in trans­pa­ren­cy, his ru­ral and ur­ban sub­jects are im­bued with ly­ri­cism and aes­the­ti­cism sus­tai­ned by an un­fai­ling tech­nique. Rich and lu­mi­nous co­lours, a stea­dy brushs­troke and an in­nate sense of beau­ty are examples of tech­nique ser­ving ima­gi­na­tion. The ar­tist's leit­mo­tiv is to “ren­der the in­vi­sible per­cep­tible, see the mu­sic and hear the pain­ting.”

Dri­ven by the de­sire to ex­plore the flow of crea­tive ener­gy, Ro­land Pal­maerts ne­ver pre­pares his sup­ports nor does he draw sketches in ad­vance. With deft ges­tures, lines take life on the can­vas. Fol­lo­wing a rush of ideas and emo­tions, a scene emerges that will un­fold in the fra­gi­li­ty of the mo­ment. “All is vi­bra­tion and mo­ve­ment, hence mu­sic.” The su­perb washes, tex­tures and bright co­lours ma­te­ria­lize through his po­wer­ful ges­ture. Chia­ros­cu­ros add a dra­ma­tic and spi­ri­tual note, a space where the ob­ser­ver can ima­gine his own nar­ra­tive. Gif­ted in ef­fec­ting at­mos­phere, the ar­tist adroit­ly creates this space where minds can wan­der in delight while re­tai­ning a re­so­lu­te­ly fi­gu­ra­tive base.

Born in Bel­gium in 1953, Ro­land Pal­maerts saw both his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther using paint­brushes. He star­ted using them him­self at se­ven years old by ta­ck­ling the Fle­mish mas­ters, no­thing less, his am­bi­tious nature al­rea­dy ap­pa­rent at this young age. At ten, he wins a na­tio­nal “Tin­tin” first prize, the first of nu­me­rous re­cog­ni­tions he will re­ceive throu­ghout his ca­reer. He stu­dies art at the Athé­née School in Brus­sels, then at Saint Luc Ins­ti­tute.

In the ear­ly 1970s, he joins the Bel­gian ar­med forces as pa­ra­com­man­do, an ex­pe­rience that was high in emo­tions. Art, ho­we­ver, re­mains his true calling. He im­mi­grates to Ca­na­da in 1980 and works as gra­phic de­si­gner and illus­tra­tor for ma­jor ad­ver­ti­sing agen­cies. His sound trai­ning in dra­wing and oil pain­ting soon make of him a well sought-af­ter ar­tist, his re­pu­ta­tion gro­wing slow­ly but sur­ely.

See­king a more per­so­nal ex­pres­sion of crea­ti­vi­ty, he be­comes a full time ar­tist at the age of 28. With his bold per­so­na­li­ty and en­tre­pre­neu­rial ener­gy, he is evi­dent­ly des­ti­ned for suc­cess and as­cen­ding self-ex­pres­sion. Fa­vo­ring wa­ter­co­lours for over twen­ty years, he ex­hi­bits his works in Ca­na­da and Eu­rope on more than one hun­dred oc­ca­sions. He al­so hosts well at­ten­ded trai­ning work­shops, as well as a great num­ber of te­le­vi­sion shows. He de­ve­lops and sells ar­tis­tic pro­ducts such as ins­truc­tio­nal vi­deos and paint­brushes crea­ted spe­ci­fi­cal­ly for his tech­nique. He is the sub­ject of two book pu­bli­ca­tions, the first re­coun­ting his jour­ney and fea­tu­ring his bo­dy of work (Pal­maerts, l'homme, l'ar­tiste, 1990, Édi­tions de Mor­tagne) and the se­cond (Le monde de la cou­leur, 2009, Ulis­se­di­tions) is an ana­ly­sis of pig­ments in­ten­ded for ar­tists. Ba­sed on his own ex­pe­rience, he des­cribes his vi­sion concer­ning tint com­bi­na­tions (mi­ne­rals, dyes, se­di­ments) and de­mys­ti­fies cer­tain myths associated to co­lour.

In 2013, he throws him­self in­to an ex­tra­or­di­na­ry chal­lenge and creates an event that will be ins­cri­bed in the Guin­ness book of re­cords. For his 60th an­ni­ver­sa­ry, he pro­poses to create a giant wa­ter­co­lour pain­ting: 60 me­ters of art in 60 hours. In as­so­cia­tion with the French ci­ty of Arches, well-known to wa­ter­co­lou­rists for its high qua­li­ty pa­per, he meets the chal­lenge working 3 days and 2 nights wi­thout any sleep break. The trai­ning re­qui­red to be able to ac­com­plish this feat as well as the or­ga­ni­za­tion de­tails will oc­cu­py him du­ring two years. He rea­li­zed this so­mew­hat far­fet­ched dream with vir­tuo­si­ty, once again de­mons­tra­ting the extent of his ta­lent and his mas­te­ry of the me­dium.

An­nual­ly zig­zag­ging bet­ween Qué­bec and Bel­gium, the ar­tist wishes no­thing less than to conti­nue to ex­tend his own boun­da­ries. With ge­ne­ro­si­ty he shares his know­ledge by hol­ding tech­ni­cal work­shops. His Ca­na­dian and Eu­ro­pean re­pu­ta­tion ha­ving been pro­ven, he nur­tures the dream of ex­hi­bi­ting his works in the Uni­ted States and in Ja­pan.

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