Narratives of banality in reality

Gies Backes (1977) takes the inspiration for his paintings from his immediate surroundings. In these he is not drawn by special or deviant objects or situations, on the contrary, he is more interested in banalities. At least, that’s the way it seems. A plastic garden chair, a lit chandelier, a kerbstone,  some plastic garbage containers, a midweek caravan, a look through the window of a Chinese restaurant, a piece of flooring or a window plant. Persons rarely appear on his canvases.

This may sound boring, but Backes strives to turn this apparent blandness into something fascinating. Through the imaging of the ordinary he succeeds in telling stories. Open narratives. Stories that can be interpreted in various ways, depending on the viewer’s creativity, as well as memories and experiences. The deserted Chinese restaurant with Chinese characters on the window panes reminds one of Edward Hopper’s iconic work of “Nighthawks” of a desolate bar at night. To another this same painting may bring memories of a relaxed Chinese meal after a hard and productive day’s work. One viewer may associate the white garden chairs with a disastrous camping holiday, while another may think of a messy Ikea garden furniture department.

Gies Backes attains this narrative effect in various ways. One is his painting style. The use of a limited range of sallow colours and the somewhat vague brush strokes change reality into a suggestion of reality. You know what it depicts, but it refuses to exactly stick to that rule. It’s an interpretation. Has reality turned into a memory of itself? A romantic variant? A dream version of it?

Furthermore, he uses space. In some of his painting he expressively places his objects in space, which is not inhabited or populated by humans, although one does have the impression that the people have just left the location. He allows, as it were, the viewer to enter the work of art and become an actor on the stage. In other works he so much zooms in on the object – the floor, a kerbstone, a window – that one gets curious about the lost context, the space that has been left behind. A reversed  method of making the observer  make up their own story.

Backes uses photos as a starting point of his paintings. These photographs form a kind of sketch. Before starting on the actual painting he often makes a rough sketch of the actual photo. During the rendition of the painting he preserves room for serendipity and the sudden new idea.  Thus the distance away from his source will grow.

Translation: Chris de Haan (Venlo)

Dutch text: Rob Perrée (Amsterdam, October 2012)

Gies Backes
Born 1977 Venlo, The Netherlands

Education

1996 – 2000
Academie Of Fine Arts Maastricht

Exhibitions

2017
Galerie Wilms – Solo

2015
Amuse
Gallery Wilms, Venlo

2014
Limburgs Finest #2
Museum van Bommel van Dam, Venlo

2013
Somewhere in Between
Manufactuur, Venlo
(together with Sander van Deurzen, Willem Harbers)

2012
Secret Postcards
Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht

2012
Gallery 48, Breda
(together with Jowan van Barneveld)

2011
Everybody knows this is nowhere
Odapark, Venray (solo)

2011
Met andere ogen:
een terugblik op veertig jaar verzamelen

Museum van Bommel van Dam, Venlo

2009
Royal Award for Painting
Royal Palace, Amsterdam

2009
Into the Wild
Artipoli Art Gallery, Noorden
(together with Tanja Ritterbex, Erik Habets)

2008
Glocal Affairs
Timmerfabriek, Maastricht

2008
Gallery New Untitled, Venlo

2007
House of Fine Arts Limburg, Roermond (solo)

2006
Leolux stand, Furniture Fair, Cologne (solo)

2006
Seventies
Gallery Judy Straaten, Grubbenvorst

2005
Nie Vergessen Woher Man Kommt
Gallery Ayac’s, Amsterdam
(together with Marcus Maliepaard)

2005
Vier Schilders Zien
Arts Center Signe, Heerlen

2004
Lei Alberigs Museumkapel, Venlo (solo)

2004
Royal Award for Painting
Royal Palace, Amsterdam

2002
Open Atelierroute, Venlo
Publications
2014
Catalogue Limburgs Finest #2
Text: Rick Vercauteren

2012
Verhalen over de banale werkelijkheid
Gallery 48 Breda
Text: Rob Perrée

2011
Catalogue Museum Van Bommel van Dam

2009
Elegance

2009
Navenant

2008
Twee maal dubbelzinnigheid
Zuiderlucht
Text: Duncan Liefferink

2005
Metro

2005
Op zoek naar de idylle van het lullige
Dagblad de Limburger
Text: Wido Smeets

2004
Dagblad de Limburger

Nominations
2009
Royal Award for Painting

2004
Royal Award for Painting
Residence
2006
Berlin

Date: Title: Media:
01|01|2016

02|02|2016

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