Outside it was an unprecedented cold, breezy, unpleasantly gray mid-March day, but inside painter Fabrice Hünd’s studio on Jacob van Lennepkade in Amsterdam West, everything was bright. Bright paintings stacked up on one another, brightly colored rocks, a 50 kilogram jacket he made out of bright beads, fossils and marbles, a bright hat somewhere on a rack; even Fabrice had a leather vest that he had painted with bright colors draped over his torso. This artist obviously loves his colors and enjoys playing with them in intertwined forms and shapes that he finds inside his head. “I get inspired by shapes. In many of my paintings you’ll see one shape hidden in another,” he says, pulling out a painting that shows a cat in a human face, and another that shows a child in the thighs of a woman. He says these surrealistic expressionistic paintings show Earth’s DNA.
Fabrice’s career spans more than 30 years, but it’s his “mega-mosaics” that decorate several public facilities that are most popular: the Compass at Marie Heineken Square, the colorful mosaic at Muiderpoort train station and Hoofddorp Square, and the latest one that decorates the corner of Willemspark and Cornelis Schuyt Streets in Amsterdam-South.
“Most of all I am a shapes-man,” he says about his paintings. “I enjoy intertwining the shapes of humans and animals in such a way that you can still tell them apart. Colors are important as well. They accentuate what I display, but even if I do not use color for a painting you can still differentiate the forms in it,” he says.
Fabrice has been a professional painter for the last 30 years, but he recalls expressing himself through art from when he was about five years old. “I used to be scared of things like cracks in the walls of our house, so I would draw over them and turn them into shapes that didn’t scare me,” he says. He studied at the Rijks Academie and he remembers times when art was appreciated and the glamorous could be cocky because their popularity made people buy their work even though it was sometimes worthless. “That was the spirit of that time,” he says.
In a time when creative art is under siege, funding is drying up and people simply can’t spare the money to pay for quality, Fabrice has resisted running with the herds. “I prefer to do what I enjoy doing,” he says, admitting though that for the most, he now resorts to commerciality, where all inspiration that burrows inside his mind is poured onto paintings and everything has a price tag. This is what has left his studio looking like a potpourri of colors. “If you don’t work, you won’t eat, so I have to be commercial. Okay, I’m not at the point where I do Coca Cola banners, but all my work is for sale and I do accept the occasional job to do a portrait for a client,” he says.
He insists that every piece he produces is an original. “That’s what people want these days. It has become too easy to reproduce and download art, to the extent that even the Chinese refuse certain artistic work if they suspect that it’s been reproduced, while they themselves are masters at copying everything. Here, in my studio, only original pieces are produced,” he says. “I stand for arduous labor, for creating beautiful, durable art, not the fly-by-night stuff. But it’s getting more and more difficult for an artist like me, because we’re getting too hung up on that digital stuff, where website ratings and so on control everything and we slowly but surely control less and less.”
Fortunately, he adds, there are enough people who appreciate what he does. “I get regular emails from people who want something from me and every month an exhibition opens somewhere where my work is featured.”
One opened Wednesday afternoon March 27th at 3e Schinkel Straat 9.
Fabrice’s works will be on display here for a month.
Photos by René de Ruijter