Eric Basstein. Turning collage sketches into mesmerizing paintings.
– Please, introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you.
I’m Eric a 36 year old from The Netherlands. I live in Eindhoven, a city in the south of the Netherlands. It’s the 5th biggest city in The Netherlands with lot’s of high tech and design industry. Since a kid i’m interested in drawing and music. I’ve tried to combine those two as much as i can. There were fases that music was more present then art and the other way around. After more then ten years as a dj i desided to focus on my art. I didn’t want to lose my history in music and that’s how i came up with the idea of sampling art just like producers do with music. Just like a producer samples parts from other songs i try to do that with existing images. I sample them into a collage and use that as the sketch for my paintings.
– You paint collages… How did you arrive to do blend these techniques in your own style?
I made some collages when i was in art school and always had the idea of transforming them into a painting. So when i had the the idea of sampling the collages made sense to use. I always start off going trough books and magazines without any idea in mind. The trick is not to search for things. I think if you are searching for something it’s hard to find it and also you are controlling to much. I just flip pages and if i see some i like i cut it out. After that it becomes a puzzle. I try so find the right balance between colours and shapes.
– How did music inform and influence your art?
When i paint i’m always listening to music. Most of the time it’s in the same way like i used to build up my own dj sets. So i start the day with some soundscape or ambient stuff, after that it’s mostly jazz and hip hop and at the end of the day it’s time to bounce it of with some house music. I’m not sure if music also influences the image itself, mostly my mood i guess.
– How is your workflow? Is collage anyway involved?
Every painting starts with a collage. Sometimes i make multiple collages and pick the best one. Then i transfer the collage on to the canvas. When most of the collage is painted i look for parts that need to be changed. This can mean that i change a colour or shape. Most of the time i really stick to the collage. The last step is the background.
– What´s not enough in a collage that you need to use paint to achieve your goals? What gets lost in the translation from collage to paint?
I like to work pretty big so that’s the first “problem” with a collage. Also i’m a painter, it’s something that i want and need to do. After a couple day’s off i always feel the need to paint. I think that the translation from collage to a painting makes the image even stronger. With a collage it are all sharp pictures. It all has the same look and feel and the same quality. When it’s painted there’s more to see, the structure, the imperfections. The balance get’s more interesting.
– In the era of immediacy, the idea of turning something quite simple and fast (collage) into something more complex and time consuming (painting) seems really interesting and defying. Is there a sociopolitical comment in there? Do you feel your work process has a message on itself?
Never thought about it like that, but you are right about the time process. I do think that people should take more time for things. Lot’s of people go to fast just to get it out as quick as possible to get likes etc. We check out phones every 15 minutes, need a new Netflix serie at least every month. I do like to take time, see something evolve, enjoy the process. I must say it took time for me to get more patience. In the beginning i wanted a painting to be finished in a week. After that it became two or three weeks. Now i’m not thinking of time as much but more in result.
– What´s your definition of collage and how your work fits into that definition?
For me the collage is a tool, a sketch. They don’t need to be perfect. I don’t glue them or use the best papier etc. Sometimes i recycle collages that i used before. Strip parts that i like and use them for a new collage.
– Have you ever exhibited paper collage?
No, never did that, but thinking to do so in the future. Exhibit them together with my paintings to have a bigger body of work.