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Bart Stouten: A trip to the mind's forgotten continents

A TRIP TO THE MIND’S FORGOTTEN CONTINENTS

This exquisite graphic portfolio of Rainier Boidin starts from a sensitively observed, almost scientifically studied reality. Still, that reality is only an occasion; it is never a problematic or intrusive obstruction. The main theme is the transformation of Boidin’s born talent into an extremely versatile, adventurous style, which is not confined to the familiar artistic paradigms, to create a shiny new and in all aspects surprising universe of imagination.

Out of this feast of imagination, an original auto-reflexive graphic reality is born, which accurately guards its own balance. A confined space, capable to reflect upon itself, until it is sufficiently convinced that all the elements utilized by the artist have realized their utmost effect, without disturbing the consideration’s peace and quiet. In Boidin’s panache a truly wondrous, impalpable interaction is disclosed between changing tones, dancing lines, transparent but also dark, opaque fields, highly breathing and fresh – the best equivalent in visual art of musicality and dance within a spacious, attractive hall.

A feast it definitely is. But reality is not sidelined. It is intensified, deepened. And not only in its graceful dimension. Just as easily Rainier Boidin suggests the functioning of pressing gravity; the dilating influence emptiness and silence have on consciousness, as we know from Edward Hopper’s canvasses; the power of finely directed gesture and composed gesticulation, which reminds us of the meticulously elaborated language of configuration in baroque operas; or the unpredictable interaction between calculation and spontaneity, reminding us of expressionism’s inner tensions. This oeuvre’s impression is that of a well prepared improvisation. During that improvisation a new course is set out in a way that has a very natural feel to it, steered by an inner power play that makes Boidin one of today’s most remarkable artists.

A plethora of techniques is being used: the artist makes shapes into little fractals with an enormous amount of details, containing and in a certain way also cranking up yet again new details, until the inspiration is completely exhausted and a ‘breathing harmony’ has balanced itself out. We can make reference to the birth of a sensual cosmos, a micro-cosmos. Boidin penetrates as it were a nebula’s density to give smaller configurative elements a chance, so that our imagination can breathe and revel in the interaction between great mysterious impetuosity on the one hand, and highly recognizable, consolidating objects related to our familiar way of thinking on the other hand. He shifts diverse colors, thereby creating effects which remind us of the old wet-on-wet painting in watercolor art. He challenges his lines until they behave like dignified, central actors on the stage of his graphics. This truly eloquent, agile dimension lifts Boidin’s audience’s familiar life to a ritual which evolves in a mysterious space. Casually, it also inspires this audience to a fresh reconsideration of all the worn-down, limiting knowledge about reality. This gives an impression bordering on exaltation: we are being seduced by the new depth of our own familiar life that has now been linked, even completely entangled with fantasy.

Rainier Boidin gives rise to a suggestion that never overreaches itself to be more than it seems. On top of that, it is dominated by the eroticizing interaction between our senses. A face is not merely a face; in the first place it creates chances for a play of light and shade with chiaroscuro that evokes Caravaggio’s light direction. The marvelous fields of shadow portray the minds’ unknown shade, like a landscape that gains depth in the intuition’s early morning light.

All too charming objects are being avoided. With a passion that reminds us of Munch, Boidin also wants to portray the horrific, but in a more alleviating way, which entices empathy. The dark wave, evoking the deterioration of life in the 21st century or the realization of imminent death in every life, is that of an ocean from which treacherous tsunamis like Hokusai’s can rise: the killer wave breaks apart into a thousand little white crests, minutely rendered details, which always, no matter what happens, guard a remarkable structural balance on the canvas.

This artist might not always think figuratively, still he does so very often. In moments in which you can discover figures, at closer look they appear to be polyvalent shapes, which as a vector serve an inexplicit immateriality: this abstraction can be interpreted as the impact of obscure powers on our mind. Powers which we have to confront in the difficult circumstances in which we, just like the depicted characters, have to survive. These ‘figures’ are more of a stimulus for the imagination to discover a new depth, an unsuspected existential richness behind the recognizable form. Meanwhile, Rainier Boidin puts ancient beauty in an unexpected perspective of deprivation and rootlessness.

The way in which a physical aspect entices to bring about the power play in which light, darkness and shade interact very rhythmically, is truly typical of this process. It is done with a sense of repetition and all its variety, sometimes within geometrically designed frameworks, which are characteristic of the versatility of Boidin’s line: these ‘frameworks’ behave like a multicolored serpentine or they want to escape their figurative limitation and strive to be acknowledged as a symbol, a sign.

I adore the oils’ synaesthetic effect. It mixes color and scent, movement and music. You can almost taste the oil, and that is characteristic of a way of thinking in which things are not what they seem. The same goes for the colors themselves, which are aware of all their potentiality, and sometimes bear such close resemblance to each other (green-blue, deep brown-red) that they suggest new colors in between. In other moments the colors take over the function of frail support, or they get a kind of edge in their quest for the desired tonal value.

But what I find most impressive in this entire process is the fact that Rainier Boidin continuously asks himself about the employed medium’s ‘raison d’être’. He does so by joining elements from the hemispheres of water colors and oils; by leaning towards Chinese and Japanese calligraphic techniques, which allow him to operate zen elements and utilize Indian ink’s unmatched precision. Whatever combinations he puts to the fore, you will always be amazed that a drawing can have the same substantiality as a landscape painting or a portrait. I therefore firmly hold the opinion that Rainier Boidin’s work is a treasure house of discovery, which leads to the most far of continents – not only to the continents of our planet, but also to the less frequently visited continents of our own mind.

Bart Stouten

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