Diederik Boyen may certainly be said to be a painter associated with identity. Not so much the identity that one may acquire through experiences, social influences, knowing and acting, but the identity one retains after the outer trappings are stripped away, identity denied, values devalued.
The only concession that Boyen allows himself in his work is the aesthetic beauty that he affords the individuals and subjects of his paintings. Based upon exceptional technical talent he paints his portraits and subjects with almost photographic precision. The beauty is breathtaking and thus the confrontation overwhelming. He uses symbolism as a scalpel that strips bare the everyday reality of its comfortable superficiality in order to penetrate to the very essence of “being”, whether that is now or the past or what it has become.
He repeatedly delves into supposed conflicts that we think we have to discover in cultural differences such as Islam and Judaism. He also reminds us of our history in which the judgement of identity caused the mutilation of the very essence of mankind: their personality, their self worth, their inner power.
By using small increments he underscores how we, conditioned by mainstream thinking in a superficial society, assume a reality with a totally new dimension; burdening the innocent with the presumption of being a threat and experiencing difference as a danger.
Viewing an exhibition of Boyen’s work is an exercise in self reflection. There is a need to distance oneself from the beauty and technical excellence of the work in order to process the image the artist reaches out to offer to us. He does not assault our senses with social messages, he foists nothing on us, but what he reveals to us and the way he does it, cuts us to the core. He shines a light into the dark recesses of our collective memories and allows our eyes to zoom in like a camera obscura in flash backs of how we now deal in a deranged way with the identity and dignity of others. We wash our hands in the water of innocence but the soap Boyen offers us is acerbic and loaded with meaning. The incomparable beauty that he gives to his work can only represent our own blindness and our approach to others. To a large extent who we are decides how we see and experience others. In order to know ourselves it is necessary to understand how we view others. A shocking and unsettling exercise that Boyen has realised in a highly artistic way.
An exhibition that delves beyond the superficial and will certainly leave its mark!
Diederik Boyen - Blurred Bounderies (EN)
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