Michaël Borremans (b. 1963)
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Michaël Borremans (b. 1963)

The Driver

Details
Michaël Borremans (b. 1963)
The Driver
signed, titled and dated 'MICHAËL M.C.G. BORREMANS - THE DRIVER - 2010' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
23 1/8 x 15 ¾in. (58.7 x 40cm.)
Painted in 2010
Provenance
Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.
Acquired from the above by the preset owner.
Special notice

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Sale room notice
Please note that is this lot is subject to Artist’s Resale Rights. Please refer to the back of the catalogue for further information.

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Paola Saracino Fendi
Paola Saracino Fendi

Lot Essay

One of the leading figurative artists of today, Michaël Borremans is renowned for his enigmatic and technically masterful compositions that defy the constraints of time. Painted in 2010, The Driver is a closeup portrait of a man blurred out of recognition. The creamy beige and chestnut brown brushwork is precise yet little in the painting is as it appears; it is a work open to ‘different analogies’ (M. Borremans in conversation with D. d’Arenberg, Ocula, April 17, 2018, https://ocula.com/magazine/conversations/michael-borremans/). Trained as an etcher, Borremans describes his turn to painting as an ‘epiphany’ but this background reveals itself in his heightened play of light and shadow in The Driver (M. Borremans in conversation with D. d’Arenberg, Ocula, 17 April 2018). Part of the tension of the painting is due to Borremans’ genre conflation: although representational, the portrait is inanimate, transforming his subject into a still life. Lacking temporal or spatial grounding, The Driver, like so many of Borremans’ works, exists in the present perfect, a perpetual state of now.
Seeking an aesthetic that defied the stylistic markers of a particular decade or year, early on Borremans pulled subjects from vintage magazines, newspapers and film stills but when these works were described as nostalgic, he began to paint from live models; he is interested in time as a construct and not a specific historical moment. ‘With the paintings,’ he reflected, ‘at first you expect a narrative, because the figures are familiar. But then you see that some parts of the paintings don’t match, or don’t make sense. The works don’t come to a conclusion in the way we expect them to. The images are unfinished: they remain open. That makes them durable (M. Borremans quoted in D. Coggins, ‘Michaël Borremans: An Interview’, Art in America, 25 Febraury 2009, n. p.). This plastic relationship with time is perhaps why the artist’s works have been placed in dialogue not with his contemporaries, but rather with historical painters such as van Eyck, Velázquez and Manet, among others. Certainly, The Driver deftly interweaves French neoclassicism and Dutch Golden Age aesthetics with the neo-noir of David Lynch, yet it remains firmly grounded in an eternal contemporary. That Borremans’ worlds are self-reflexive and fictional is part of the reason for this fluid elasticity; The Driver is aware of the history of painting as a past that continues to resound.

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