Digital Instagram Opening : Tuesday, 12 January, 7 pm (Berlin)
A sheriff playing the flute, a DJ lighting a turntable on fire and a cowboy strumming his guitar against a verdant green sky. These playful, eccentric scenes are the painted visions of Belgian artist Joachim Lambrechts whose vibrant, dynamic practice celebrates joy, humour and free creative expression. For his upcoming solo exhibition entitled Allegro at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Berlin, Lambrechts takes his inspiration from the rhythms and colours of music to create a collection of exuberant and atmospheric artworks that immerse audiences in unbridled imagination.
Lambrechts began his career as a street artist, painting murals in cities across Europe. Whilst his practice is now confined to the canvas, his paintings continue to possess a raw, captivating kind of energy that is the result of a free and spontaneous creative process. Lambrechts never makes preliminary sketches or studies, preferring to approach each new canvas without judgement or expectation, in an attempt to capture the urgency of the imagination. As such, the works are often heavily layered with different types of paints, and bear marks of erasure where the artist has scratched or scraped away the surface. In this way, the paintings can be viewed as palimpsests, revealing both shimmering moments of pure creative outpouring, and more self-conscious attempts to contain the image. It is this visible internal conflict that makes the artworks so captivating and intriguing. The Grand Piano, for example, appears to be a simple depiction of a black piano, but on closer inspection, we realise that we are viewing the instrument from a seemingly impossible viewpoint, and that the surrounding space has been warped and flattened. This graphical aesthetic that runs throughout Lambrecht’s work creates a dreamlike atmosphere that invites the viewer to also enter into a creative headspace and engage on a more imaginative level.
One of the exhibition’s most eye-catching paintings entitled El capitán con la flauta depicts a Western-style sheriff dressed entirely in white and daintily playing a flute. With its title scrawled across the top, the painting is reminiscent of an old style movie poster whilst the portrait of the man humorously repositions a conventionally masculine character as a passionate artist, who serenades the viewer against a fervent red night sky. Once again, it is a surreal, heady scene that celebrates eccentricity whilst also meditating on the immense and strange power of art itself. Just as El capitán becomes an artist when he is holding the flute, we too find ourselves transported by the rich, atmospheric imagery beyond our everyday realities into new and exciting potential narratives.
Throughout the exhibition there is an ongoing tension between reality and dream, which is expressed most clearly in the artwork entitled I don’t play the bass, I just like this vintage Rickenbacker. The painting depicts a figure wearing a Beatles branded t-shirt, holding a red electric guitar. It’s a recognisable image of a rockstar, but as the artwork’s title humorously points out it’s more about the image than musical prowess. However, this is a celebration of role-play and fantasy rather than a criticism; significantly, the artist renders the guitar player headless as if inviting us, as viewers, to insert ourselves into the image. After all, it is through embracing a sense of risk and play that Lambrechts creates his artworks, and it is the viewer’s willingness to actively and imaginatively engage that activates and carries the image beyond the canvas.
In this sense, the exhibition’s title Allegro - from the Italian musical term meaning a cheerful, lively character piece of music - not only describes Lambrechts’ creative process, but also provides a lens through which to interpret these works. They are paintings that portray and invite individuality, laughter, storytelling, creativity and wonder.