Self-taught artist Ruan Huisamen's charcoal portraits show a mastering of the human form. His portraits are rendered isolated and largely decontextualized within time and space through their mostly dark backgrounds. The lack of any ornaments, embellishments or even environments creating intensely intimate presences.
Huisamen was born in 1991 in Cape Town. He has never received any formal education or training in the traditional techniques of painting and drawing. Most of his earlier works were created using graphite pencil, but he has since converted to charcoal based works. After returning from a three month apprenticeship under Louis Jansen van Vuuren in 2012 he began working full time as an artist and has been nominated for the Absa L'Atelier, Sasol New Signatures, SPI National Portrait and Sanlam Vuleka awards.
Huisamen does not simply reproduce a photograph with mechanical exactness. Halfway through, he discards the phtograph and relies on his own intuition, giving more prominence to certain aspects of the drawing, while de-emphasizing others. He creates his works by starting with the traditional grid-form, dividing large drawings into smaller workable grids. "Each individual piece reacts to one another, combining to create the illusion of depth and the three-dimensionality of form," states Huisamen.
In today's depreciation of traditional skills of painting and drawing, Huisamen's dexterous drawings combine a realistic observation of the human body, both physical and emotional, and dramatic use of lighting and tonality to create works that capture a different, deeper and more profoundly realized experience in relation to the subject.
"I feel what's missing is more slow art, whose adroitness and meticulous attention to detail engenders contemplation. Art that isn't merely sensational, doesn't present an obviously transient message and isn't falsely iconic. Succinctly put art that is axiomatically opposed to our evanescent experiences of mass media", says Huisamen.
Untitled II, 2014, Charcoal and graphite on fabriano paper, 72 x 61 cm
Novus, 2015, Charcoal on fabriano paper, 69 x 56 cm
Left: Mandi, 2015 Charcoal and graphite on fabriano paper | Right: Wastrel, 2016, Charcoal and graphite on fabriano paper
For more on Ruan Huisamen, visit www.rh-art.co.za.