Alphonse D’HEYE: a carefully prepared turn around

Alphonse D’HEYE has been exhibiting his works at the Zeedijk promenade in Knokke for 12 years. Until recently visitors were regaled with a wonderful collection of impressionist paintings radiating joie de vivre, where landscapes unfolded, depth was created, flowers were abundant and figuration triumphed in scenes of tranquillity and depth, of light and the colours of the seasons. Now, they are confronted with dozens of seemingly bizarre works by his hand, all of which appear to be portraits of national and international celebrities and all of which have one remarkable feature: a band depicting the eyes and invoking a refined form of hyperrealism, in strong contrast with the rest of the portrait.

Each work is a portrait of two different persons who bear reference to one another, such as Belgian King Albert II and his alleged illegitimate daughter Delphine Boël, Picasso and Franco, Hitler and Anne Frank, you name it. A pantheon of connections as well as spiritual and actual relationships. Duality in shape and in thought. D'HEYE's artistic approach is based on the interaction of what can be described as an ethereal duality as well as on the enlightened view and the participation of the spectator who is expected to make some effort until the eureka moment occurs, until he is moved both by the idea and by the remarkable imagery.

The artist’s inventiveness has to do with the heart of the society in which we live and in which reality can assume all kinds of dimensions and shapes. A fascinating interaction occurs between unusual and even unique imagery based on a demanding metier and an equally unusual body of ideas which is specific and  at the same time.

The mere fact that an artist who has quite successfully painted impressionist work for over 25 years suddenly appears to set idea and image side by side and assign an extremely significant, if not dominant role to that idea is fascinating. Two realities constituting two tangible beings enter into a symbiotic relationship and meld into one. Still, they embody a duality which reaches far beyond the initial amazement evoked by a superficial encounter. The artist's work questions all of society in a most original manner and draws the intensity of its expressiveness from touches that refer to an impressionist technique and from a meticulousness related to a sensitive hyperrealism.

Hugo Brutin, art critic, member of a.i.c.a.

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