Bruno Vanoudenhove is a local painter, photographer, business owner, and the latest artist to be featured in our ongoing exhibition series Local Art @ EPL. His show – titled Black Tie – is currently on display on the 2nd floor of EPL’s Main Branch where it elegantly captures Chicago’s world-famous cityscape in striking black and white portraits. You can catch the photorealistic paintings of Black Tie through September 28th, and after that, you can see more of Mr. Vanoudenhove’s artwork by visiting the websites for his paintings and photography. I recently spoke with Mr. Vanoudenhove via email about Belgian furniture and chocolate, his artistic awakening in a Barrington art class, Chicago skyscrapers, and his plans to dramatically expand the scale of his work.
Evanston Public Library: Can you tell us a little about your background as an artist? How did you get started in art? Was there something specific in your life that sparked a need to create? What drove you to create in the beginning? What drives you now?
Bruno Vanoudenhove: I began drawing and painting when I was young and was pretty good and loved it. Since I was born into a family of furniture makers, I went to school to become part of the family business. In school we learned all kinds of drawing from technical – such as blue print and split perspective – to looser styles like design sketching. A few years later, I decided to change directions and worked for a Belgian chocolate company. As the company grew, I returned to my technical drawing and began sketching the new shops for its building expansion projects. It was at this time that I was introduced to professional photography. Back then, I never thought that I was an artist. All my drawing and sketching was related to the business I was in.
Eight years ago I moved to Chicago and began my own photography business, and I decided to return to school to learn how to create and design websites. Five years later, I took an art class in Barrington. After a few weeks, the idea of becoming an artist came to me for the first time, and I finally decided to become a fine art painter. Since I love architecture and the Chicago cityscape, I naturally began to paint Chicago’s buildings and its skyline. Nine months later, I had a solo show at the Barrington Public Library and sold my first four paintings.
EPL: How do you describe your art? Do you see yourself as fitting in with any specific artistic movements or styles? Do you work in other mediums in addition to acrylic paint?
BV: As I’m very new to the art world so is my art vocabulary, and I’m not really sure where my style fits. I think that it could be a mixture of pop art, realistic, or even landscape! What do you think?
Since I began as an artist three years ago, I’ve really focused on acrylics. As my photography business is going well, I don’t have as much time to work on other mediums for the moment, but I like photography, sculpture, drawing, etc.
EPL: What was it about the Chicago cityscape that first attracted your artistic eye?
BV: The size of the buildings! I came to Chicago on my first trip to the U.S. eight years ago, and the size and beauty of the buildings amazed me. I really fell in love with the city as soon as I landed. I love architecture and design in general – from historic buildings to the most modern ones – and Chicago has a lot to offer.
EPL: What are your future goals as an artist? Do you have any plans to develop “Black Tie” further?
BV: I will begin to expand “Black Tie” with the cityscape of New York and perhaps one or two other cities. As I go forward, I would like to try painting on a bigger scale. My future goal as an artist will be to create big scale sculpture or pieces of art that could be integrated into public places or corporate buildings.
EPL: How do you find Evanston and the Chicagoland area as a place to work an exhibit as an artist? What inspires you as an artist about the community where you live?
BV: Since my artistic inspiration comes directly from the city, Evanston and Chicago are the perfect places for me to develop and show my work. Chicago is a community that loves art, and I’d like to thank the Evanston Public Library for the opportunity to display my work.
Interview by Russell J.