Peekaboo! The Flying Dutchman is drawing you

When it comes to quality art and illustration, The Flying Dutchman draws a line. And another. And then leaps over them.

It's amazing how blind we can be. Living in a polished world of graphic design with a font for every mood, it's easy to see through billboards, and overlook beauty (and the beast) just to find your way to the supermarket. It's a survival mechanism.

 It stands to reason then, that work mixing dark and light, space and activity, work that sucks you into the image, is a powerful piece of art. Give the Flying Dutchman half a chance to draw you in and you might see the world differently.

Hendrik Gericke is self taught. His extensive portfolio of fine art and illustrations started with the humble ballpoint pen and took him through libraries, museums and bookshops. Along the way he scribbled, sketched, painted, etched, and shaded towards a technical and visual proficiency that puts action into storyboarding and voice into portraiture. We asked him about his thoughts and processes.

CTM : You are largely self taught and evidently driven. What is your idea of excellent art?

Hendrik : Art is an incredibly subjective thing. For me, great art is something that creates an emotional response and will not age badly. It often needs to be something that scares me by how good it is, either in the skill or sheer simplicity of its execution.

CTM : If art is not about the artist, which stories do you want to tell?

Hendrik : My stories actually exist as very definite narratives, which is why I began drawing and writing in the first place, to nail the little bastards down before they disappeared. They all seem to spring up as a way for me to investigate some element of our world, often how it is governed or the way in which people behave, ideologically for example. So I often find myself heading in the direction of social satire not unlike Orwell or Huxley, although this is not immediately apparent. The repeating cycles of human history, systems of government and human progress (I use this last term very loosely) are of great interest to me, as well issues like our disregard for the pursuit of a sustainable society (I don’t care how often the buzzword is thrown around, we’re not learning).

CTM: You focus on "line, weight and the intricacies of tone and lighting".  Could you instil emotion into a landscape? Could you take the humanity out of a human figure?

Hendrik : You mean how can I place humanity in something inanimate? Well, I will quote Björk, she said with regard to electronic music that: “people point their finger and say: ‘there’s no soul here’. Well, if there’s no soul, it’s because nobody put it there.” It’s very similar, it’s whether or not you pour your guts into something that will show. I can site countless examples of portraits and figured that are as dead as porcelain, so I stand firm that the contrary is equally true.

CTM: You mention in your biog that forging ahead via constant activity has immunised you against sentimentality for earlier work. Can you criticise it, though?

Hendrik : Well, we (artists) tend to be a very self-critical lot as it is and I try to avoid this, so I tend to not look at what I have just completed, but rather at the blank sheet that needs to be filled next. This prevents you from resting your laurels. It is interesting, however, to go through old work, as there are often very cool pieces that you have almost no recollection of having done. I don’t tend to look at pieces unfavourably, because they’re all building blocks that help me sharpen up. I’ll abandon them if they’re not working and the only ones that upset me are the ones that I didn’t have the sense to abandon earlier!

CTM: Music is as complex and expressive a medium as illustration and design. How do you interpret a brief for album art?

Hendrik : Well, the good thing about music is that it is a natural stimulant; it conjures up all sorts of images that are almost entirely unique to the individual listener, so there is an infinite amount of potential imagery in music, given that you have a taste for the particular genre.

CTM: Tell us about working with Tool's bassist.

Hendrik : Well, MT Void is a two-man project of Justin Chancellor and Peter Mohammed who worked with Lark some years ago, I’ve been dealing with him all along, but the whole thing is pretty surreal. It’s not a straight album art brief, but rather a larger visual concept we’re developing. No telling where it may end up.

CTM: Fusion seems to be a trend in more than contemporary cuisine exclusively. You're mixing media with your new series, Mutants. What are the processes and logic behind it?

Hendrik : I have been toying with the idea of augmenting existing reality images with my own art, either as photos that bled out at the edges to become some alien environment, or to add foreign elements into the existing world, as I did with the mutants. This starting point comes from my work in concept art where real environments are often painted into digitally ones to create a different environment, like traditional matte painting. It grew from there and thus far I have had a very good response from all over.

CTM: Apart from your figure sketches and painted portraits, your work seems largely void of human presence; poignant, powerful, but silent.  Though not of human feeling. Have you thought about this?

Hendrik : This is another interesting observation and no, I have not thought about it, but there is a reason for this. Most of my work is an exploration, a sort of set being built for a play that may be staged there. As yet I have not gotten to the part of creating such a populated world where the dramas are played out, but I have more than a decade’s worth of writing that details human actions and interplays, so the people are there, they’re just not in frame yet! Having said that I should probably add that the fine art is but one slice of the pie, there are scripts for films, graphic novels and books that have been brewing for a longer time than I care to remember, but then I have never been one to rush things.

See more of The Flying Dutchman :

Jess Henson

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