Artist Talk with Tom Oreel
'Come closer and see, see into the trees', 2021
Acrylic on canvas
Tell us about yourself.
I am Tom Oreel, born in Amstelveen in 1991 and now live in Amsterdam. I am a painter and a PhD student in Psychology. I like to take long walks, bike through Amsterdam at night, play basketball and read about history.
Where did your passion for art begin?
Like most kids I enjoyed drawing. I think what I liked about drawing was that I didn’t have to talk to people, I could escape in my own world where I was boss.
My passion for making art as Art started three years ago. I was not really happy and thought it would be a good idea to learn something new, to make stuff of my own. I choose drawing because it’s simple and materials are easily available; I knew how to hold a pencil and had lots of paper at home. After one year of drawing I decided to try out painting. Initially I was a bit hesitant to try out painting. I only looked at painters like Rembrandt and Vermeer and they made me feel a bit overwhelmed, it looked too complicated and technical to try. But then I saw Matisse, he was my gateway drug. His paintings look simple and playful. I thought I can do the same, so I gave it a try.
How would you describe your work to someone?
Unrealistic depictions of humans, animals and/or plants in some situation.
What are you currently working on?
Painting humans and animals. The subject doesn’t really matter that much, I want my paintings to have a certain atmosphere. Something that is not too obvious, you feel something going on but you can’t really put your finger on it. I like to play with this.
'Along the Nile', 2021
Oil on canvas
When you start a new work or project, do you plan what you’re going to create or do you improvise?
This is what usually happens. It starts with a basic idea, like I want to paint a crocodile. Then I pick some colours and start painting a crocodile. This first image gives me a point of reference so I have something to work with. After this it’s basically trying out different things; removing things I don’t like, adding things I might like. When the image becomes too obvious or starts to look deliberate, I add some randomness to stir things up a bit. When the image becomes too messy, I add some order to make it more obvious. It’s constantly a back-and-forth between these two I think. Eventually I want my painting to look effortless, but not too effortless. Too effortless is boring, just like a fully IKEA-decorated home is also boring. There has to be some struggle and doubt in a painting.
Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how your influences have made an impact on you and your practice?
Matisse and Tal R for their use of colour and how they apply the paint. Picasso for his curiosity. Danny Fox for the way he tells a story and also his use of colour. Van Gogh and Hockney inspired me to look more carefully at the things around me. Rembrandt for his sketches. I also look a lot at Medieval European art, it’s powerful and absurd, it tells a story, and I like the flatness of it. Finally I also admire the honesty and intensity of Ian Curtis, it motivates me.
'Monday morning', 2021
Oil on canvas
What are your plans for the remainder of this year?
Force myself to work in series and I would love to make ceramics and sculptures.