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Though they are not self-portraits, Johan van Mullem’s cerebral portraits expose the artist’s own desires and feelings. Projecting himself onto his imagined subjects in an attempt to identify with them, the artist paints ethereal images that seek to reveal the human capacity for adaptation and the core qualities of human nature.
He works with oil-based inks on wood boards to render luminous figures whose features are heightened by their primordial, earth-toned backgrounds.
While van Mullem is influenced by the haunting qualities of artworks by William Blake and Francisco Goya, he does not look to the art historical canon for guidance, citing instead artistic technique and the conveyance of emotion as his primary concerns.