1971, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Humankind and psyche are ever present themes in Christiaan Lieverse's figurative work. His paintings seek to captivate the viewer and raise questions, while at the same time permitting individual interpretations. Essentially, these are psychological portraits. Many of the canvases assign the viewer the role of an almost voyeuristic observer. However, these pieces can also be perceived to be confrontational giving the viewers an active role, creating a silent dialogue between them and the painted figure. By depicting only a vague backdrop or omitting it altogether, the margins of the canvas do not mark the boundaries of the story.
Lieverse works with a range of models that he photographs in his studio, but his ideas also come from newspapers, magazines, travelling and what he encounters on the street. By compiling accumulated images he develops ideas for new work.
"Human beings are often my subject matter, mostly only the face. I paint extremely large portraits, which are not about trying to recreate an image, but about transmitting a feeling. I try to appeal to the empathy of the spectators and invite them to look for the story or motive behind the image. To achieve this I leave the emotion unclear, by painting contradictions: pride and consternation, pain and victory, coldness and empathy."
Originally, Lieverse is a painter, but he doesn't limit himself to a brush and oil paint. He is constantly searching for new techniques to apply to his projects, researching how to work on a theme or idea to the greatest effect. This constant pursuit led him to develop a completely new set of works: the Hybrids. This series of faces, in contrast to the psychological portraits, is digitally created by assembling photographs from different models, mirroring for symmetry and using 'Phi' to depict the 'divine proportion'. The resulting image is printed on cowhide and then painted. Lieverse describes the Hybrid woman as "Hirsute, completely hairy, but not unattractive. She is actually perfect and, although I try to, I feel nothing for her. I can't interpret her; I don't get too close, yet I still want to. She seems familiar and yet feels unfamiliar at the same time... Perfect? or perfectly animal?"