DeBruycker, Dirk (1955-2015)
"Relocation Series #1"
H:40 x W:76
The work of painter and print-maker Dirk De Bruycker offers us a unique opportunity to witness what arises - what kind of art arises - when a young European artist, particularly one whose background and training has been profoundly Old World, slips his Continental moorings entirely and settles in the for him, surely, tres exotique, tri-cultural world (of Indians, Anglos and Hispanics) of North em New Mexico.
De Bruycker's large-scaled paintings, at once brut and yet elegant, "speak a lot about displacement, where the displacement of the image call be like a metaphor for our own displacement ... immigration is not an easy thing,” the artist has allowed, "it forces one to really look inside."
This artist's compositions have the puzzling look of palimpsests, where overlaid and richly worked layers alternately recede or advance, and where no one text can predominate; these "icons of transformation", as he calls them, document the transformation of his heart, mind and whole heritage since his removal to the stark, high desert of Northern New Mexico _ as they document his evolution as a mainstream modernist as well.
De Bruycker's most recent painting has been characterized by a bold imprimatur (drawn from a very personal, even hermetic, iconography in turn derived from a treasured family collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European paper watermarks) almost "branded" into the canvas with asphaltum. The meaning of these inscrutable symbols _ a rampant lion, a coronet - is long lost to many, perhaps even to him; indeed, the artist has said that he is "particularly interested in the shifts in psychological weight that occur when images are 'corrupted' ... one is left feeling puzzled and is asked to reinvent meaning as one is forced to do in life."
In effect, what we witness in this work is an effort to appropriate the obscure, once potent, significance of these icons as some sort of "hallmark” for his very contemporary abstract compositions. This is not unlike the way Jackson Pollock was also occasionally impelled 10 use archetypal signs, it appears. Moreover, De Bruycker may well cling to these familiar symbols because they are a kind of invisible "watermark" of his native Belgique, which will always stamp his character.
The overall effect upon entering this artist's most recent exhibition was a little like entering a roomful of faded and enigmatic frescoes in a Pompeiian ruin. We sense immediately that some elaborate life was lived here, or some ritual absolved; while we cannot decipher the handsome narratives, we easily succumb to their highly refined sense of style. These "Icons", as he calls them, "are about history, about sexuality as a catalyst and about a profound pessimism concerning humanity". To my way of thinking, this latter pronouncement - or, a momentary glance at the earnest face of this wanderer - has to confirm Andre Maurois: "Style is the hallmark of a temperament stamped upon the material at hand."