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Bart Ramakers was born in Belgium in 1963, near Maaseik, the birthplace of the Van Eyck brothers. Under the influence of his father, an art lover, he absorbs everything he can find in the village library on painting, history, typography and printing. At twelve, he began to write and illustrate stories before enrolling in art school. Later, he learned graphic tricks at the Maasmechelen academy, including the technique of engraving. At the same time, he discovers with the Symphonie Fantastique, Faust, Boris Godounov, Othello, The Rite of Spring and Lady McBeth… a sound and narrative landscape that blends perfectly with his drawings. It is in all these works of art that the source of the work of Bart Ramakers is to be found, with as main ingredients the narrative and the pictorial of Baroque and Romantic music and painting. In the 1970s, he took a history course at the University of Louvain.


His own artistic production then consisted only of black and white drawings and comic strips. His first exhibition of drawings in Leuven was such a success that all the works were sold. Under the influence of Rubens or Manara, the female nude was already at that time an important element in his work.  In twenty years and two marriages, Bart Ramakers has made a career in communication and marketing. Alongside, he nurtured his artistic themes, film after opera, comic strip after novel, journey after journey, until in 2009 he began his own artistic career. At the heart of Bart Ramakers' work are classic myths, fables and legends, colored in a contemporary perspective, imbued with heartbreaking human feelings, passion and betrayal, love and hate, envy and jealousy... At Bart, human/ women are overthrown, by a sarcastic irony. The Christian morality of suffering and guilt is transformed into a story of joy and generosity, where references to the history of art abound.


To begin, could you tell us about your style?

It's a pictorial, narrative style, I try to create paintings by getting closer to the painting of the Flemish masters. I create to shape stories, small condensed films. But I don't consider myself a photographer, I use photography like anyone can use painting, engraving or sculpture, to achieve a goal. Photography is a medium like any other. I don't want to use Photoshop to create a painterly style in my photo, I want it to be seen as a photo.


And what is for you the purpose of this medium?

I have a few obsessions and a few big themes! (Laughs). One of the main themes remains religion, it is due in particular to my youth, my Christian education. In the 60s, for me it was not Flower Power, the Rolling Stones, for me it was rather Jesus, the Church. I only discovered the existence of 1968 in the 70s. I quickly realized that there was something wrong with religion. My pubescent interests in the 70s were more about women and love and I still think that's going to save us. Now in my picture, I often replace Jesus with a naked, victorious woman, because we have also entered the Aquarius age. I have two favorite themes. Religion on the one hand and the reversal of power and status between men and women. If the women are naked, they are not abrupt or vulnerable. In my images, women are strong and that's why I have a lot of female clients. At Fred's (Fréderic Fontenoy) women are often submissive, unlike my place. But on reflection, there is a third theme, a mixture of stories: en as a historian, I understood that there is no reality. Even if we are made of blood and flesh, we are not true, we are above all stories. I realized that many people, and especially at the end of their life, have made up their own story and certain things have been concealed, forgotten. When people watch a story they make their own interpretation and it's fantastic, it's not up to me to reveal everything, to reveal the story.


A place that looks like you?

I went to a museum in London, the Sir John Soane's Museum, a very narrow house, by an architect from the National Bank of London. The house was saturated with Greek and Roman sculptures and there was not a free space on the walls or on the ceiling. It's as if I were in the brain of this architect and at the same time in the catacombs of our Western civilization. I felt there, at home.

- Find the continuation of Bart Ramakers inNormal Magazine n°5 -

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