Dries Ketels
Male, living in Brussels (Belgium)

» Abstract Realism

Artwork Details

Painting - Watercolour

From Ashes to Ashes

Artist statement – ‘From Ashes to Ashes’


With this series the artist introduces Abstract Realism, a new perception in the art world. He is searching for a new type of realism. A realism in line with the values and movements of our century. Therefore he developed new painting methods and additional concepts. He reduces illustrative aspects just like abstract paintings but without reducing its realistic quality, a realism based on facts rather than illusionistic aspects. Because let’s face it, the illusion of realism as it is performed in traditional paintings where artists try to mimic realism is always lacking and walking behind realism, no matter how good the painter is. But the process of realism and our ideas around realism are never limited. Abstract realism works with the process of realism and the idea of realism.


In order to create this image, to shape the world, the artist decided to bring the painting method as close as possible to the method 'nature itself' used to shape our world. The painting shown here is an interpretation of a cartographic image of our world a few million years ago (Pangea). In order to recreate this shape the artist first of all asked himself the following question: "which entity is most responsible for the shape of our world?" The answer, without going in too much detail, is temperature. Therefore he decided to replace the traditional brushes with temperature. The painting method that he developed out of this thought is an authentic and new method exclusively used by this artist. The image is a 'wet in wet watercolor’ made with fire (+-1500 °c).


It needs no explanation that the method an extremely rare and interesting form of realism generates. For example the craters/silent volcano’s that you can see on the image are a document of volcano's that actually originated while painting because of the high temperatures that are used.


The title 'Ashes to Ashes' of course refers first of all to the cycle of life where every form of matter eventually returns to its original state, all states in between are nothing but temporarily. And secondly, because the creative process is very similar to any form of destructive process, which high temperatures in the form of fire most of the time are, is the creative act a balance act between destruction and creation. Thereby providing a blink towards our modern society that for some reason seems to be very good at the destructive side of this balancing act, the destroying of our environment.


I will not go in detail into the painting method but it is important to understand a part of it in order to feel the complexity of the technique. As said above, the brushes are replaced with temperature. The artist didn’t touch the paper/painting (with any tool) at any point except for the drawing underneath the painting, while painting he only manipulated the picture with temperature. This painting is a ‘wet in wet’ painting, which distinguishes itself from all other wet in wet watercolour paintings. Normally it’s impossible to generate a lot of structure within a ‘wet in wet approach’ watercolour painting, but with the techniques that the artist developed it is possible to combine a lot of structure with this beautiful ‘wet in wet’ atmosphere






Ps: Let it be clear that this is just an introduction in the concept behind the work as the artist saw it at the time of creation. This is not absolute, but just gives you a brief and short insight in the many thoughts and reasons the artist had for creating this series of artworks. At the end this is just one of the many interpretations possible. Feel free to share your own thoughts on this series on his website!


PS: This style of painting is very dangerous (don't try this without the essential knowledge). The methods needed to paint these paintings are protected with patents!

Artwork dimensions 91,7 x 62 cm

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