We've all seen optical illusions and been fooled once or twice by something that has been cleverly folded, manipulated, or reflected to look unusual or impossible. Being able to create an illusion with nothing more than a pencil and a well-placed light source is something decidedly more complicated, not to mention impressive. Ramon Bruin is a young, Dutch artist who has already risen to international fame for various styles of his work. His airbrushing technique is something marvelous to behold, and it shows a technical mastery that is well beyond his years. However, his drawings are what most intrigue me, and they are the pieces that have brought him such unprecedented attention, particularly for an artist of only 31 years old.
Many of these sketches and drawings come off as whimsical, as though Bruin came up with a clever idea and scribbled it out, so their tone reflects that. Traditionally, sketching was done for inspiration, to keep one's abilities sharp, and to fill up time. Bruin uses casual sketching as something far more important, and by combining an amusing subject matter or setting with a seemingly impossible image that is reaching out of the page, it causes the viewer to do a double take. Sketching is meant to be doodles, not technically perfect visual illusions!
Some of his pieces seem to require the human element to fully complete the image. This implicit interaction means that the art must be participatory, but in a gallery setting, the artist would not be standing over the image, hand in place, for months at a time. That must mean that some of these works truly are just for his own amusement, an entertaining hobby between his other endeavors. The scenes where the flat world of paper is somehow interacting or blending with the 3-D world are the most intriguing. Reality seems to be distorted or blurred in those points of contact, and the definite line that separates the two becomes more difficult to see.
Spider and Chick
Did you go back to take a second look? What was drawn and what was placed? Was the eraser real or just another photorealistic element of the drawing? Bruin's work challenges our perception of depth and perspective, and radically alters our opinion on the limits of sketching. It's not just something that some people do in the margins of their notebooks.
Most of his drawings are typically done with charcoal, pencil, paint pens, and graphite, although some of the colored images use watercolors and acrylics. He also likes to use multiple sheets of paper, some of which are stood at a 90 degree angle to the first sheet, creating a three dimensional canvas of sorts, despite the fact that the art will only exist on the flat, two-dimensional surface. You can see that technique in Sherlock Holmes (above) as well as in these perception-bending pieces below.
All Gnomes Are Heroes
The Busted Buste
When we look at art, we want to be transported, mystified, or deceived. There is something evocative about art, particularly two-dimensional work like photographs and paintings, because a moment or an idea from the real world is captured and sealed into a flat plane. It is a way of stealing reality, or a means of saving it from the relentless passage of time. Bruin adds a new facet to the possibilities of "flat" art; his work is a visual cross breed, a two-dimensional sculpture for the mind to wrap around.
Some people may look at Ramon Bruin's work as clever or a novelty, but it displays a brilliant understanding not only of draftsmanship, but also of visual perception, angles, depth, the assumptions of our senses, and many other complex aspects of art appreciation. For Bruin to manipulate his viewer's mind to the point where they barely believe their eyes is a skill that few artists can achieve with only a pencil and paper. His juxtaposition of real objects next to or within the drawings increases this visual subterfuge and reinforces the illusion.
While Sailing Through the Thoughts of My Imagination
Bruin has been featured in exhibitions and gallery shows around the world, and has received impressive reviews and write-ups in the New York Daily News and the Huffington Post. For being a young artist from the Netherlands who only started his main career 6 years ago, he has done very well for himself. Perhaps it's because any artist that can use simple tools to fool the complexity of the human mind is someone special. His career has only begun, but his grasp of the fascinating boundaries between art and reality already sets him apart from many other artists trying to find their voice.
To see all of Ramon Bruin's spectacular, mind-blowing art or to add some of his work to your collection, visit his website!
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All Images are subject to copyright by the artist.