14 December 2010

Pencil Vs Camera - A Series by Ben Heine

You could say that Belgian artist Ben Heine is talented.  As well as being a painter, he is a portraitist, caricaturist, illustrator and photographer.  These talents are combined in one of his latest projects, Pencil Vs Camera, some of which we reproduce here with his very generous permission. Above, a distinctly modern twist on a classic Vermeer, who becomes Girl With A Pearl Earring and Gas Mask.
A dinosaur threatens Paris.  Taken from Montmartre Hill, the setting is fine for some fun with both art and the city.  We can't quite make up our minds here at Kuriositas whether this is a Tyrannosaurus rex but we are happy that he has finally found a use for those rather puny forearms.  Heine has been drawing and taking photographs for over ten years and this series is the natural result of graphic exploration and his evolution as an artist.

The idea for the series came unexpectedly and like a lot of art, inspiration was drawn from the mundane events of life. One evening of multitasking a short while ago and Heine was writing a letter at the same time as watching the television.  When he re-read the letter before popping it in to the envelope he saw the image of the television transparently behind the letter.  The idea then came to show two actions in one image.

Pencil Vs Camera was born.  In order to contrast the realism of the photograph Heine has come up with some extraordinarily imaginative alternate realities going on at the paper level.  Although very modern in approach this picture gives away the artist's love of the art of previous centuries.  In this he has interpolated his own takes on famous paintings by Millet, Botticelli and Goya - do you recognise them?  The eye at the centre? The tool by which the art is examined and interpreted.  Your eye.

It is important to Heine that in a project like this there are no rules.  The imagination leads the way and what goes on to the paper is generally not what goes on in the every day.  The photos are after all the reflection of the real world and what is on the paper is perhaps what could happen if imagination were to become a reality.  Certainly where better a place for aliens to circle on their first visit to Earth than the Atomium in Brussels?

Although all of the series are created with a sense of humour (if not occasional mischief) there are some serious messages too.  The above (no. 15) draws out attention to the plight of the koala in Australia, where its habitat is slowly being encroached upon and its numbers in the wild dwindling.  Effectively, the battle between drawing and photography is both the focus and message of the series.  As both transcend language (and Heine speaks six to varying degrees of fluency) the viewer can decide whether they ignore what is really going on behind the paper.

We would again like to thank Ben Heine for his kind permission to use these images on Kuriositas.  As you may have guessed these represent only part of this particular series - and the tip of the iceberg for his creativity in general.  You can see the rest of them in their set on Flickr.  While you are there why not take a look at his collections?  Go make yourself something to eat and drink - you may be there for some time!