An important issue in Antoon’s work are the so-called ‘Lonely
Subjects’: ‘subjects’ because the painted objects go and live their own
life, so as to become subjects; ‘lonely’ because of their central
position in a seemingly empty space
They say that making art is a way of creating order in reality. Antoon considers the mystery of one single subject in an otherwise big empty space. The empty space creates the illusion of perspective and isolates the subject from everyday reality so as to reveal its deepest core.
The lonely subject is not just an image, it transmits a view that brings to light hidden aspects of the existing world. The spectator can let himself be guided and stimulated by that ‘other’ way of looking, which charges familiar reality with a new meaning and puts question marks behind what appears as obvious, so as to make the world fantastic again.
One central idea or form, realistically painted against a simple background, which seems to be its new environment: ‘la chambre claire’ vs. clair obscur, the lighted room which becomes the scene of an interplay between formal expression, rendered minimally but clearly, and the meaning of the image shown. This stands in sharp contrast with the classical ‘clair obscur’ approach.
Unlike photography, realistic painting can make a kind of synthesis of a picture by concentrating on the essence of the subject. About this, Antoon says himself:
”I am always in search of content, of the reproduction of an idea in a pure manner, transmitted as clearly and neatly as possible; on the other hand, although at close quarters this ‘image’ looks as though it was painted with a simple brushstroke, yet it seems to hide ‘something’.”
Together with the painterly game of illusion, Antoon’s work also contains delightful “quips”, hidden allusions to particular things or ideas; sometimes the image prompts us to philosophical reflections, often with an ironical twist, like in the painting the “Bookpin” e.g. is this a painting about books that we must not forget?
‘Book gift’ is a fascinating presentation of an object that fills us with a certain idea about its content, which, alas, we are not to know since it is impossible to look into the books, although it is not forbidden to guess what is in them. A similar cluster of potential ideas pervades the painting of the burning book.
The fragile content of the cardboard boxes or the childlike wish to know what is in that little paper bag, a laughing donkey, a gramophone that seems to tell us something about the past …all these paintings are trying to uncover visible the hidden meanings of these altogether strange ‘Lonely Subjects’.