2 Rennes – Painting the sun 2

3 by Ellen Hall 3

Pots of cactus mark the workshop entrance. Raucous reds, velvety
blues and sunny yellows warm the studio walls. Rennes’ cascade of
brown ringlets belie his 40 years, suggesting a Renaissance angel.
Relaxed, curious and multi-lingual, he makes everyone feel welcome.

While his canvases are infused with Mediterranean sun, the artist is
in fact a son of the Netherlands. After the fine arts academy in
Tilburg he took his sketchbooks on the road. On his travels Rennes,
like his compatriot, Van Gogh, came south, fell in love with the light
and stayed.

The play of light and colour is important in his work. “When I look
back at my childhood sketchbooks, I already used lots of colours,”
he says. He paints in the spirit of the Fauves, Matisse and Derain, who
discovered in Collioure that even shadows could be colourful.

Rennes distinguishes between his Fauvist landscapes and what he calls
his “personal works”. In them the natural world overflows with
interlacing images of fish, cats, horses, trees, men and women, sun and
moon. The impression is of the joys of life in all its simplicity and
abundance. He explains, “I prefer to paint the sun than the shadows.”

“But,” he adds, “to know the sun, you have to know the shadows.” Like
Matisse, Rennes has freed himself from the merely visible to paint
the invisible world of emotions. Erupting volcanoes appear in many of
his works where they symbolise both positive, creative energy and a
negative, destructive force. Lava and sand are mixed with paint to
add texture to the canvas. Preferring natural materials, he employs
saffron, mint, cobalt and indigo pigments.

Another source of inspiration is music, which plays in the studio as
well as in the paintings. A tree in a recent canvas is the body of a
saxophone player. Notes rise and birds sing in the branches which hold
a woman’s face. Joy and love dance together under a radiant sun.

Paintings by Rennes appear in collections in France, England and
Ireland and as far away as Japan, Australia and the U.S. A group show
in New York this November is his next big exhibit.

[(To sample Rennes’ work, go to :[www.rennesart.com->www.rennesart.com] then visit his
workshop at 12 Rue Arago, Collioure.)]

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