With an artist as prolific and versatile as Gerard Bellaart, it is not easy to pinpoint his “style.” Dutch Mordant — just published by Moloko Print — presents a selection of his multifarious paintings, drawings, and handmade Cold Turkey Press “pensum” cards of recent years. The result, I’m glad to say, skirts the matter of style.
As I’ve written before, his large oil-on-canvas paintings bring a dream world out of hiding. And his drawings look alive, spontaneous. They evolve from one to another with a freewheeling ease. But you can be sure they are supported by years of deep training. You can also be sure they are not “easy” viewing.
It’s too difficult to show the full range of the book here. So have a look at just a few of the drawings. The portraits capture their subjects with a psychic acuity that brings their interior moods to the surface. Each one seems to me a reflection of Bellaart himself, not in their likenesses, which are in fact tellingly accurate, but in their mode of expression. His “line” can be as sensitive as a poem by Keats.
The portrait of Roger Blin, a favorite of mine, personifies a freely flowing exuberance that is at the same time deadly serious. The most mysterious portrait (also in the running for my favorite) is the one he drew of himself, called “Furtive self-portrait.” It suggests to me something oblique, a secret identity perhaps, dating back centuries to the 15th-century Dutch printer-artist Jacob Bellaert, from whom he is descended.
Click the images to enlarge them.
Have a look at several other drawings
made with a combination of color pencil, wax crayon, and casein tempera.
So as not to give a misleading impression of the book,
here’s a look at a spread showing two of his large paintings.
A note about the title of the book:
“Dutch mordant” is the acid Bellaart preferred to use on copper during the 40 years he made etchings.