Let me introduce you Daniel Uytterhaeghe, Duytter. A pinter born in Lille in 1963, fascinated with architectural environments under strong contrasted lights. He is showing his work since 1996 in different art galleries all around France, Italy, Egypt…His paintings show daily scenes in which the street, the city, is the main character.
I’ve been watching his work since quite some time and decided to contact him to speack about his main fascination: the streets, the urban environment through which we all move everyday, the one he pictures agin and again in sunny, rainy, or foggy days. Here’s the conversation:
Most of your work depicts city street scenes. What’s so special about the street?
I am always the child who walked through the city (Lille) with his mother on the water puddles…a good memory to me. I always feel good when I walk on the street in the city, my eyes are full of light, I enjoy the rain with beautiful reflections of light to paint, it’s like fireworks!
In the cities there is people, cars, architecture, etc. A lot things to paint, I would be bored to paint a landscape. I love landscapes when i am on hollidays but for my painting it’s lack of complexity…maybe I’m crazy! I love the complicated composition full of things in one part and empty in the other part, it’s another type of contrast. I love all contrasts, contrast of light and cultural contrast, with a lot of different people and languages…
I love the human being, sometimes grumpy and sometimes smily…
Another contrast very important to me, in the city there is business men and women, rich people and poor people who live on the streets, homeless people. I will show it one day, for the moment I try to paint the city…just the city without problems but my heart wants to paint all the style of life in the city and show all problems.
There are always people and cars…Is the city just a background in your paintings?
No. The city has the same merit, it’s as important as people and cars.
People and cars without city…it’s crazy to me, like cities without people and cars too.
Sometimes in my paintings cars and people are more important and sometimes it’s the opposite, but they are both important, they complement.
What influences most when you’re choosing a street view, while preparing the next painting?
When I choose a painting there is a lot of photos at the same time for my inspiration, I can see a lot of different atmospheres and lights. If i have to paint 10 paintings there is 30 photos on my table to inspire me and to choose the next painting.
At first I choose a photo to paint with a good atmosphere, dark with strong light, rainy days etc…
The atmosphere, light and shades and contrast are my priority with the simple scenes of life, without famous people and famous monuments…just anonymous.
What do you think about past and present urban planning? Do you think they really care for our real problems as city users?
No, i don’t think so. They don’t care for our real problems as city users. Too much pollution, parkings are expensive, not bicycle and electric bus enough, etc. Here in the north of France they removed the streetcars (cablecar) 20 years ago, and
now they’re adding new streetcars with its new rails…it’s crazy! It was Ok before!
What do you think about the importance of the car in our modern cities, since many of your views are focused on the road and the cars…
I hate the pollution. Cars would be more beautiful to my eyes with another caburant…the sun for example. But I really love to paint them, because it’s the reflect of our crazy society and my paintings show our society as it is, a real life.
I also paint streets and architecture to show the human work and life in the city. Progress is not always a in a good way to me, but it’s often beautiful to paint with a good strong light.
Last… What’s the city, or the street, you like the most, and why?
The city of my heart is Lille, in northern France, because it’s the city where i was born. I always love to walk through the streets, and the atmosphere with fog or rain can be very
impressive, like a feast of light, traffic lights, reflections on the streets, of the headlights of cars etc… I love the landscapes, the mountains to rest, but I really love the cities to walk, to make photos to paint… I breath.
After Lille i love all the big cities, specially NYC because there is a lot of people from all over the world. It’s very interesting to meet and speak with differente people.
Every picture used to illustrate this conversation are property of its creator, Daniel Uytterhaeghe and shall not be used without his permission under any circumstance.