Reinoud van Vught

Goirle NL 1960, lives/works in Tilburg

In the paintings of Reinoud van Vught, paint and chance are given free rein. Moments at which he pours out the paint and directs the fluid substance only in a loose, intuitive manner are alternated, however, by more emphatic interventions. His elaboration on the irregular traces of paint, or on the visually dense surface of a piece of paper worn down by countless revisions, frequently gives rise to organic and floral motifs. Van Vught finds his inspiration in nature and in the tradition of painting – but particularly in the painting that he has before him: ‘I look at what the paint and the canvas have to tell me; that’s where I find my direction (…).’

Even in the early work, it appears that Van Vught not only recognizes nature in the delicate, intricate traces of a plant’s growth but that he also experiences the very act of painting as being ‘natural’: for him, the generative process of a painting runs parallel tot natural formation. In addition to fine-lined, rush-pen drawings of thistles and branches, there were also paintings in which he showed ‘occurrences’ in the paint – ones which nonetheless conjure up associations with natural forms. By turning the palm of his hand in the wet paint, for instance, he produced an image reminiscent of the brain’s structure. Against a more even background, such a pictorial fragment assumed the look of a miniature, of ‘a painting within a painting’.

While making use of the large studio at De Pont from 1994 to 1995, the dynamics of his work grew. He began to work with rolls of paper, about twenty to thirty meters long, only later dividing these into pieces and working on them further. Initially the drawings had no top or bottom but developed in all directions. And whereas, in his own studio, he was dependent on long drying times, here he was able to work on dozens of works at the same time: ‘I could walk over them, sit in the midst of them, be very physically present in and around the work.’

The scale of these works has extended into several recent paintings, in which wild mushrooms appear. They are painted on unprepared, drab canvas. The challenge seems to be to preserve the radiance of the colors and the painterly movement as paint and color immediately vanish in the absorbent underground – hence a fresco-like quality, which is heightened by the use of Mediterranean colors.


For more information, please consult the website of Reinoud van Vught.