What does the ideal artist’s studio look like? How much time does an artist spend there? Is it a sacred place? This week in 'The Artist’s studio' series: Camiel van Breedam, whose solo exhibition at Art Partout in Antwerp opens this week.
Do you visit your studio every day?
I stroll through my studio almost every day. Almost the entire house has become a 'studio'. My first studio was in the attic of my birthplace in Boom. That was in 1956. Unfortunately, there are no photos of that. Since about 1966, I have had a studio in my own house, which I largely helped to build myself.
What time do you leave for your studio, and how: on foot, by bicycle, public transport or car?
In fact, I live in my studio, the whole house is a studio, the walls are covered with works by other artists that I often refer to in my own work. That also happens to be the theme of the exhibition at Art Partout Gallery that opens June 19.
Do you hold on to certain rituals in your studio? Music or silence?
I can't work every day. It depends on my state of mind and my imagination. Sometimes I work for days in a row, almost continuously. No radio, no music, although I play music myself – New Orleans Jazz, to which I have lost my heart – but when it comes to my work all the focus must be on that. Galerist Jeanne Buytaert spoke of 'listening to the silence': silence no longer exists. The architect Jul De Roover once posed the question: 'And what about inertia?' - another thing that has disappeared.
How important is light to you?
Daylight is very important to me. Fortunately, there are large windows in my studio, which are sawn from a reclaimed wooden beam in 'Moelman Teak' (so called in the Rupel region) of more than six meters.
What does your work process look like? Do you work everywhere and all the time or does work only commence the moment you enter your studio?
Part of the work is already in your head before you start. That means you are constantly working on it.
Detail studio Camiel van Breedam
How much time do you spend on average per day in your studio?
That varies a lot; sometimes all day long, sometimes none at all.
Is your studio a sacred place?
The largest work I did, which I made in my first studio in 1964, is entitled 'Altar to combat hypocrisy'. My studio is the place where I feel good and where I don't think about all the nonsense - too much to list - that now dominates the contemporary world.
Do you receive visits there; collectors, curators or fellow artists?
It's nice to have visitors every now and then and to be able to talk to people. That is important, as is being captivated by a book and enter another world of fantasy.
Camiel van Breedam, studio Wounded Knee
What is the most beautiful studio you have ever seen?
I have seen many studios of other artists: the most enjoyable was that of Roland Roure, who played like a child with all his materials. Frida Kahlo's studio in Mexico was the most surprising. The rebuilt studio of Constantin Brâncuși in Paris is the greatest.
What does the ideal studio look like?
I am very happy with my studio, in which I can get lost. I can search countless drawers and boxes for materials that I think will be useful for a future work. Old paper and cardboard, brightly coloured fishing tackle, cork, metal threads, egg shells, dried rose petals, bits of zinc, lead, wood, feathers, glasses ... countless and diverse material. It is a dream to be able to live and work between them.
Studio Camiel van Breedam