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All-rounder Rik Wouters

Biografie alleskunner Rik Wouters - Lyklema Fine Art

Hendrik Emil (Rik) Wouters (1882 – 1916) was a Belgian sculptor, painter, draftsman and etcher. He is considered part of the Fauvism movement, although he thought that and the movement were idiotic. In Brussels he found his love, muse and model: Nel Duerinckx. The young couple moved into a small house in Watermaal. Sensual happiness and abject poverty went hand in hand. The village, the houses and Nel became Rik's most important models.

He searched for his own style in contemporary work, forced to be made on cardboard. Wouters wanted to capture the light without falling into pointillistic dots. Wouter's lightness in his work depends rather on the composition, on harmony and contrast in his color areas. He already tends towards the abstract.

At the end of 1911, Rik became definitively captivated by color and light. He painted and drew almost continuously and made at least sixty canvases in 1912. The crazy violence and domestic worries, of course based on the Nel model, and the beautiful bust of James Ensor are the famous sculptures from those years. Three quarters of Wouters' oeuvre is an ode to his Nel.

Wouters was certainly influenced by Cezanne, Ensor and Van Gogh. He once wrote about Ensor: “How fresh that Love Garden looks, with all those small colorful figures in rosy white, pink, red, blue, yellow and many other shades, each more extraordinary than the other. The sky is pink! Goddamn, what pink! It is unique in the history of painting.

In 1912 Wouters visited an exhibition with 100 works by Vincent van Gogh, about which he wrote: 'He immediately grabs you by the throat. Every canvas of that guy is like the eye of a bird of prey. None let you go, and all shine as if surrounded by shadow. They have a hard expression and the nervous and tormented structure of burnt things...'

In August 1914, the war drama broke out and he was deployed as a soldier in the defense around the city of Liège. He was later interned in Camp Zeist and painted and drew the daily life of the soldiers there. However, he was already ill. He was allowed to go on leave and settled in Amsterdam. Despite his deteriorating health and a lot of pain, he made a series of canvases, painted in a light touch, such as Summer afternoon in Amsterdam. In the autumn of 1915, the cause of his fatal illness became clear: cancer in the upper jaw bone. That year he exhibited a series of works on paper in the Print Room of the Rijksmuseum. His major retrospective in the Stedelijk Museum followed in 1916, but it was already too much for him; he had to quickly return home in a taxi and died not much later.

Images below are shot in KMSKA

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