Watercolours Watercolour, 2023. Black and white watercolours on Arches paper in wooden frame
Since 2009, Op de Beeck has been steadily working on a constantly growing series of large watercolours, painted at night. Perhaps not surprisingly, the nocturnal has become more or less the paramount theme in these works.
It’s clear to see that what invariably animates the pictures is light. Watercolour is transparent, so the white of the paper itself is the light source. Work at a watercolour too long and you extinguish that light, and in the worst case, kill the painting. It’s a delicate technique. In fact, in a watercolour the light is the very part that is not painted, the part that is left in reserve. Moreover, you can’t correct a watercolour as you can if you’re working in opaque media like oils or acrylic.
The watercolours are all large, ranging from 2.5 metres to 5 metres wide. They deal with both classical and contemporary subjects, depicting mysterious and mainly fictional nocturnal places and anonymous figures, and alluding to both high and low culture. As in all Op de Beeck’s work, the immersive character, the mood of the picture, is the primary concern.