Guy De Jaegher (1944, Kortrijk) is known as a leading contemporary fine painter who focuses on object naturalism and who is justifiably renowned for his rare precise craftsmanship and an impressive series of still lifes. In his youth, he attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown Kortrijk, before studying graphic arts and calligraphy at the famous Sint-Lucas Institute in Tournai.
His still lifes only reached first rank after years of careful study of the rich heritage of the Flemish Primitives. His paintings owe much to the masters of the late Middle Ages with their time control, patient learning processes and dazzling display of space, materials and texture. Such paradigmatic masters for De Jaegher are found, in addition to the famous Dutch fine painters of the Golden Age, especially among the meticulous painters of the early Northern Renaissance.
VIRTUOOS ON THE SURFACE OF OIL PAINT ON PANEL
De Jaegher has since grown into a virtuoso in the field of oil paint on panel. But he also shines in the today little-practiced genre of back glass painting, in which the painter applies his oil paint to the back of a glass plate. In addition to such églomisés, De Jaegher invariably works on panels provided with various layers of gesso.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
A basic drawing executed down to the smallest detail covers the entire composition, which is then executed in several transparent oil paint layers. The soft glaze of the top layer shows no trace of brushstrokes – the guarantee for a delightfully velvety shine.
Disgusted with haste and stress, De Jaegher manages to create a paradoxical feeling of lasting timelessness with his technique. As a result, he does not fall for the temptation to add to the content of the depicted scene so much that the deeper meaning is oppressed. The painter, on the other hand, illuminates each object in his composition with a special and sustained attention, thanks to which he can express his own irreplaceable identity. This unique voice blends harmoniously with the other voices of the gifted softly lit composition – to a sometimes slightly dramatized but always truly pictorial polyphony.
Color, atmosphere and the mood that rises from the gracefully merged voices: properties that seamlessly trace in De Jaegher’s unparalleled exemplary still lifes with his refined representation of the smallest details in the texture of the materials that the viewer, with the help of a magnifying glass joy even more intensely.
Initially, the Academy taught me the art of painting of Impressionism, wet-in-wet, alla-prima painting and I was often confronted with contemporary Modernism in painting. And that was it.
The classical tradition with its painted mental compositions and cool beauty was no longer taught.
More and more I focused on those beautiful Renaissance painters, including those wonderful Dutch “Leiden Fine Painters”.
The harmony, the daring aesthetic compositions and the incredibly detailed portrayal of different subjects are the main features of their work.
I cannot list them all; from Jan Van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, da Vinci, Pieter Claesz, Willem Heda, Willem Kalf, the young Rembrandt, Gerrit Dou, Frans van Mieris, Gabriel Metsu, Rafaël, titian, Holbein to David and Ingres, last bastion of the classical tradition.
All made a big impression on me. And all, I hope, influenced my technique.
My only aim is to achieve what those formidable Renaissance masters have achieved, namely:
To let the viewer enjoy the beautiful!