Stilleven met koperen ketel
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
In this painting Raoal Hynckes depicts various objects with great precision. A copper kettle, a dusty wine bottle, a bulb of garlic, a bunch of salsify, a knife and a piece of rope have been collected together on a stone which is in turn placed on other stones. On the left of the painting, there is a vertical wooden plank with a nail from which a bunch of keys is hanging and there is a smoked mackerel hanging above some vegetables. The painting is composed in various shades of brown and some white and black, and the objects are highlighted against a dark background, casting dark shadows.
Initially Raoul Hynckes painted Impressionist landscapes until he became involved as a soldier in the battles for Liege during the First World War. In 1914 he fled to the Netherlands. Shortly afterwards he fell into a serious emotional crisis which he only managed to overcome in 1924. He destroyed all his old work and turned away from the Impressionist style of painting which was concerned with representing a transient moment. Hyncke’s new work had a much heavier tone and he mainly painted still lifes in dark colours. The way in which he combined shapes initially revealed the influence of Cubism, but Hynckes did not represent his objects in an abstract way and did not aim for an innovative method of painting. On the contrary, he worked “with the conviction that good paintings are not achieved by reaching for the broom or climbing onto the barricades.”
Hynckes concentrated on a sophisticated expression of materials. His themes acquired a "vanitas" like character. He referred to death and transience, inter alia, by painting dead animals, eroded stones, skulls, pieces of rope, knives, rusty and dusty objects. However, his paintings are not exclusively about death; they are equally about the life which precedes it. Hynckes seems to bring time and life to a stop. His works from this period are classified as works of magic realism. He depicted everyday objects in a very realistic way, but the cold light of a strong light source, the dark backgrounds and the almost monochrome palette of the painter give the work a heavy, almost mysterious atmosphere. After 1950 he once again started to paint landscapes which were in lighter shades and more colourful – very like his work dating from before 1924.
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