Visions of the real

Local artist Kees Bruin has seen great success throughout his career, with a multitude of awards, and his work now represented in collections around the world. Metropol catches up with him following his most recent endeavour.

Like many artists, Bruin discovered his gift at an early age, winning an art class contest at the age of seven.

“Throughout primary and secondary schools, I largely regarded art as a mainstay subject that would help me graduate overall each year. Art then became the subject that propelled me to get a Fine Arts degree. It was only at this time, once I discovered I could paint with personal and public satisfaction, and especially after graduating with honours in 1977, that I began to be seriously drawn to art and creativity.”

There is no doubt Bruin’s art is as incredible as it is unique, but it is also very intentional.

“The primary reason why I chose the photorealist genre of painting was that I viewed this as the most sensible way to express any perceived meaningful realities and truths I was concerned with and to reach as wide an audience as possible. Even at this time, I seriously mistrust much about ‘style’ in painting. I want to produce works that are so objectively realistic that even when portraying subject matter ‘style’ is largely redundant.”
Bruin’s work is wonderfully varied, each series bringing new and different inspirations. Any Christchurch local would find a lot of familiarity in The Surf, Sea, Skate Series, with the recognisable landscapes of the beach in particular. Bruins explains what this means to him.

“Apart from desiring to show respect, thanks, and glory to our Father and Creator for land and seascapes, I simply wish to add my personal interpretation on how these look to me. Secondly, as a homage to various traditions in art history of where and why the Masters included land or seascapes in their works, such as to pay homage to the district or culture they’re from and to serve as connections that viewers can make to the artists. Thirdly, this is where I have lived most of my life with mainly happy memories coupled with the inherent health advantages that this environment affords, including much pleasure derived from the surf.”

Released last December, Kees Bruin: Visions of the Real is an accessible way for people to experience his art, with over 270 reproductions and images. The motivation behind publishing the book started nearly 14 years ago.

Rapture Sumner,
Southerly Aftermath

“Motivation came about soon after the 2006 exhibition of my works, ‘Visions of the real – Illusion and Allusion,’ instigated by and held at the Christchurch Art Gallery. Following this event, several colleagues and friends suggested I write a book that would ultimately allow me greater control and includes a more comprehensive outline (visually and literarily) of my career as an artist to this point. The first practical steps taken were due to a friend and colleague, John C. Stringer, who suggested I commission him to help write it. Much time and effort were undertaken over the following years, but the consequences of the earthquakes of 2010/11 halted the progress somewhat.

“The final significant step that has propelled the book to completion is due to the enthusiasm and tireless efforts of my book publisher Quentin Wilson. Many other enthusiastic supporters, friends, and work-related colleagues have also contributed, notably, Dinesh Patel, who is largely responsible for the final digital files of my images.”

What Bruin hopes that people will get from his work.

  1. An obvious transmission or feeling (that you can’t put your finger on) that elevates the soul. That they will be sufficiently enticed by beauty, whatever forms they are, to ponder and want to understand any narratives that on the surface are not clearly seen.
  2. To appreciate any excellence of craft in the surface impression, including to the degree of not being able to believe that it is a painting according to the traditional method – i.e. brushes and paints on linen/canvas/wood etc.
  3. My dearest intent is that people would believe in my work enough to warrant owning one (original or reproduction and or purchasing the book) for pleasure, inspiration, and a sure-founded hope for the future.

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