An artist with so many strings to his bow he could replace half the orchestra if only he weren’t so reclusive, Eric Heyninck’s work encompasses both traditional and digital media, as well as photography and – though at the time of writing this section of his website is under construction – music and poetry. Having worked as an artist for some forty years, Heyninck knows the ropes (hell, he probably invented a few of them) and it shows in his work – controlled, confident, and loaded with the weight of a long personal lore.
This personal mythology is an integral part of Heyninck’s work. While the images do stand apart as their own entities, it’s only really when one reads into his story, his unique perspective on the world and his life, that the viewer truly gets an understanding of the universe she’s stepping into. Inspired by Max Ernst and the Dadaists as much as by Greek mythology, much of his traditional work consists of Hellish, surrealistic landscapes fused with organic elements. They bring to mind the work of Bosch (much like Ben Tolman, the subject of my last article), but also the prog-rock album covers of the Seventies, which themselves were often Classically-inspired, or something you might find in an old book on demonology. Each piece in his portfolio features often-extensive notes on background and meaning as well as images of the work in progress, and although sometimes it is better to let a painting speak for itself, I find in this case the descriptions add a whole other layer of richness and mystery.
Working in a muted palette, which gives the work the look of something unearthed from centuries ago, Heyninck uses a multitude of colour to create mountains of flotsam, hills seemingly constructed purely of living beings, or ancient, hewn from the land architecture. There is something about these works which seems vaguely ominous, as if they touch on a border of the human psyche we were not meant to cross; as in Heyninck, perhaps, has unlocked a door – or at least peeped through the keyhole – to a space between spaces, to the kind of old world horror the plagued that minds of artists and writers in the early-to-mid last millennium.
Born in Belgium, and spending much of his time now alternating between there and France, Heyninck continues to produce works in all mediums to challenge and engage the viewer, much as – in his words – he was challenged by them during their creation. Steep yourself in his mythology, see through his photographs how the world we know becomes transformed into the world of his paintings, and then, hopefully, emerge on the other side.