After successfully completing his training at a teacher-training college, Stijn Rietman (Drachten, 1979) graduated at the Minerva Art Academy in Groningen in 2006. One of his teachers there was Matthijs Röling. Rietman was granted the Dooyewaard Stipendium award on his graduation and spent the next six months working at the foundation’s studio in Blaricum. In 2015 he won the Gerrit van Houten Atelierprijs.
His work has evolved from traditional to experimental, with alienation and emptiness being his key themes.
Rietman often approaches his subjects from an unexpected angle. Characteristic of his work is the search for a surprising image or a strange subject. Painting contemporary subjects with great attention to detail creates tension between a familiar everyday image on the one hand and a feeling of alienation and/or unease on the other, enhanced by the subject’s emotional charge. Everyday objects are given as much attention as classic still-life objects. “I find this brief moment of confusion an interesting experience”, he says. In his later work he experiments with this tension.
Although the painter may be classed as a ‘realist’, he would like to further qualify that as follows: “As a painter you’re always manipulating reality to some extent: you stage things and omit or add things to give a scene a different atmosphere or an extra emotional charge. In my work that’s often silence and estrangement. A true realist would simply sit down on a stool and just breathe”.
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