From October 14th until November 5th Galerie Jos Depypere presents a retrospective exhibition with works of Christian Silvain from 1970 until now. Discover the story behind 5O+ years of art and read more about the life of Christian Silvain.
Catalogue Retrospective "Flying Dreams" - Silvain
Early Life & Works
Christian Silvain was born in 1950 in the German-speaking town of Eupen, Belgium. He spent most of his childhood in the company of his two older aunts, who ignited his love for drawing and painting at a young age. While his aunts ran their toy store, he devoted countless hours to his passion. This sanctuary allowed him to further develop his talent and enthusiasm for art over the years.
After the passing of his aunts, Silvain, as a 16-year-old artist, moved to the bustling city of Brussels. There, he sang his own lyrics in cafes and restaurants to make a living.
This period proved to be challenging and brought difficult moments, but also fruitful encounters, such as those with Jacques Brel and Maurice Béjart, for whom he painted décors.
In the early 1970s, Silvain embarked on his surrealist period, strongly influenced by his mentor Paul Delvaux. At the same time, Silvain experimented with etching and marble sculpture. Soon, he organized his first exhibitions in Brussels and Paris, establishing his presence in the Belgian art world.
In the early 80s, human presence disappears from his paintings. A hyperrealistic period begins. Facades, their details, and words are meticulously depicted. Brilliant paintings where his technical mastery once again shines. After some time, those dilapidated facades become carriers of torn posters and graffiti. Street art avant la lettre.
Inspired by drawings created by autistic children and mentally disabled adults, whom he regularly visited and who reminded him of his own childhood, Silvain began his “poetic period” in the late 1980s.
Realistic drawing and painting gave way to a childlike manner of depicting his own world. In a very unique way, Silvain paints his life story, interweaving it with short texts that convey his feelings and thoughts. A painted biography.
This not only marked the beginning of a series of global exhibitions but also served as “inspiration” for Ye Yongqing, who started copying Silvain’s works in 1994. The crane, cages, and hundreds of other distinctive elements from this period were adopted in the work of the Chinese plagiarist.
Turn of Century
In the early 1990s until around the turn of the century, Silvain experimented with new techniques. He began creating 1/1 mixed media multiples, worked with Chinese ink, and incorporated toy objects into his artworks.
He crafted both small and large sculptures and used reclaimed metal that were exhibited as far as Canada and New York. Collaborating with glass artist Giampaolo Amoruso, and later in Murano, he produced works in blown glass.
2005 - ...
Starting from 2005, Silvain focused on black acrylic paint, often featuring large red, blue, or white figures in the center – a confrontation with his past. It’s as if each individual artwork represents a passage from his life, containing a deep emotional tension hidden beneath a youthful surface. Drama in an enchanting setting.
The unbearable lightness of our being… His powerful passion for creation seems insatiable. His exceptional technical talent enables him to achieve his purpose in every single artwork. The driving force of his body of work resides in an irresistible desire to survive, not to disappear into nothingness. “Rien” (Nothing), “Niets” (Nothing), “8000 keer niets” (8000 times nothing), the obsession to paint a lifetime without purpose!
“Without my paintings, I feel so anxious,” a cry for survival. The scream of Munch, shattered into hundreds of mysterious paintings. Silvain, an extraordinary work that will defy the ages.
During his 50-year career, Silvain has participated in over 450 exhibitions worldwide, and with around 80 works, he is represented in international museums in Europe, the United States, and now also in China. With the rightful recognition of his original artworks and the successful completion of the plagiarism lawsuit against Ye Yongqing, a promising future opens up for Christian Silvain.