AT THE AGE OF 12, CHRISTIANE VLEUGELS WENT TO THE ACADEMY OF ART IN SCHOTEN (BELGIUM). ARTIST HERMAN CORNELIS TRAINED HER SKILLS IN DRAWING AND MODELLING. AT THE AGE OF 17 SHE WENT TO THE MUNICIPAL INSTITUTE OF DECORATIVE ARTS AND CRAFTS IN ANTWERP, WHERE SHE FOCUSED ON DECOR, PUBLICITY AND NATURE DRAWINGS. AFTER THAT, IT WAS TIME FOR THE ROYAL ACADEMY IN ANTWERP. THERE SHE STUDIED FIGURE DRAWING, OIL PAINTING AND RESTORATION TECHNIQUES.
She married in 1986 and moved to the city of Cologne (Germany) for six years, where she had two years of continuous exhibitions in the well-known Galerie des Beaux Arts. Some work went abroad including Egypt and the UK. Back in Belgium, many years followed with commissioned work including numerous reproductions and several exhibitions, also in the Far East. In more than 30 years she managed to make a living as a professional painter, producing around 1000 paintings up to now. That explains her extreme skills nowadays, where she still creates right from the heart. Occasionally she likes to paint landscapes. Although she has those extreme skills and talent, still with each new creation she feels that the real learning process is only beginning, with new aspects revealing in every painting. Her paintings do not wear messages or political statements but just make you dream and wonder. Looking at the audience when they are facing Christiane’s work in recent exhibitions (like in Breda’s Museum, “Dat is ook een portret”, Dutch Master Painters, Netherlands 2016) you always see instant emotions. Not only because of the stunning technical performance put into each and every painting. It is also because of ‘the heart and soul’, the spectator recognizes, like looking into the eyes of Vermeer’s “Girl with a pearl”. Christiane states that painting portraits is “ her heart case”.
As a portrait painter, subjects are mainly single persons or groups of people, but also animals.
The emotion of the subject tells the story. Christiane is more than convinced about what makes a real good portrait: “If the eyes -in fact the soul- seduce, if you want to know more about the person on the canvas. There needs to be more of a life behind the paint. It‘s always nice when a portrait leaves something to the imagination. That also causes the spectator to want to know more about the artist.“ Although she knows no ugly portraits, Christiane prefers her model to be happy with the result. But she admits that it is fascinating when the portrait also shows other sides than beauty alone. In that context she admits that she portrays herself always older than she is: “Apparently I am more critical than my mirror.“ Since the sixties the main stream of art and painting was focussed on new directions.
The trend caused that craftsmanship was no longer part of the skills needed to create art. Despite the fact that in recent years realism is coming back worldwide, still lots of people claim art to be everything but realism. In several exhibitions we had discussions with audience and experts about this subject. But if you take a close look to paintings of Christiane, you realize what it takes to make portraits like she does.
Maybe you know that a true colour photo on your computer screen (24 bit) can be composed of 16,777,215 different colours. And when you then take a look at any painting by Christiane’s on e.g. a 120 by 160 cm canvas, you must realize that it is composed by mixing maybe 10 to 12 colours. She is really a magician, or should I say alchemist, when mixing the base colours towards the thousands you need to come close or beyond reality, which means more depth – close to 3D – and more emotion than any photo.
On top of that she has the skills to fixate the object she observes in her visual memory for 6 to 10 seconds, which gives her more time to concentrate on the details on the canvas. And last but not least, she is in full control over the paintbrush, more than I have ever seen. Her hands conduct the creating process, like a maestro a symphony. Christiane is one of the world wide top 20 hyperrealistic painters, I am sure. But she is not only about hyper realism, it is the feeling you experience, the emotion, when looking into her painted world. I enjoy looking at her work every day.