Ben Heine, a Belgian visual artist has certainly taken a simple circle to new heights thanks to the use of graphics software and his amazingly creative mind. Not only this, but he has also added new concepts, such as ‘Pencil vs. Camera’ and ‘Flesh an Acrylic’ to his artistic repertoire.
Born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in 1983 and currently working in Brussels, Belgium, surprisingly art was not Heine’s first choice. He only briefly studied painting and sculpture, including the history of art, at UK’s Hastings College of Arts & Technology. His main focus at that time was journalism that he completed at IHECS School of Journalism, Brussels and gained a master degree in journalism. As far as his current art is concerned, he’s mostly self-taught.
Heine’s genius is not limited to only art, but to music, languages, and photography too. Despite the rigors of his academic training, he was able to devote time to learn several music instruments, mainly drums and piano, and learning several foreign languages.
Heine started on his series on ‘Digital Circlism’ in 2010 making people sit up and take note of his dynamic and 3D rendering of celebrities created out of flat circles of various sizes and colors. It’s indeed a synthesis of imagery from popular culture with the use of small, distinct dots of pure color. He describes it as a merger of pop art with pointillism. Of course, he has expanded the ‘points’ in pointillism to actually recognizable circles while creating his portraits.
Says he, “These portraits are as striking as posters struck from the iconic Alberto Korda photo of Che, but suddenly re-conceived to be projected upon the infinite cyber wall of digital space, a sort of modern stained-glass artworks.” And if you think these portraits are easy to make, think again. Each of his portraits requires 100 to 180 hours to complete. One of the most popular figures he has created through ‘Digital Circilism’ is that of a giant lion’s face on the hood of a Mazda 3 car. This was commissioned by Mazda and was exhibited at the Brussels Affordable Art Fair.
Heine’s original visual concept of ‘Pencil vs. Camera’ is a new art form that has become his special trademark and one of the most powerful art concepts of this century. To create this form of art, he superimposes a hand-drawn sketch on a photograph that he has especially snapped for the purpose. The unique aspect of this art is his hand remains visible in the photo while holding his hand-drawn sketch.
This is meant to depict the connection of the viewer with the artist and the artwork. He explains, “I make art for people. I want them to dream and forget their daily troubles. Each new creation should tell a story and generate an intense emotion, like a poem, like a melody.”When Heine showcased his innovations of ‘Pencil vs. Camera’, it becomes hugely popular and received critical acclaim from art websites.
Heine created his ‘Flesh and Acrylic’ concept in 2011. In this, he creates abstract acrylic paintings on large wooden panels, integrating a living person in the artwork as part of the whole composition. By the use of colors and lines, the living person is all but merges with the background. He is as interested in photography too since it motivates him to create dramatic and realistic images. He uses all the tools of the software at his command to remove all imperfections from his compositions.
Heine’s works are regularly exhibited in numerous galleries and fairs all across the globe and also published in leading local and international dailies and magazines.