Beyond Reality by Schilte & Portielje

Kahmann Gallery Amsterdam: Photoworks Beyond Reality by Schilte & Portielje

Huub Schilte and Jacqueline Portielje work and live together in Rotterdam. After they met in 1975, both opted for an art study. Schilte initially became an architectural designer, Portielje graduated as a painter. Soon after they each got their own studio in the same building (± ‘85) Schilte chose the path of the autonomous art by making monumental murals while Portielje was already combining photography with painting. From the very beginning they inspired each other and they were closely involved in each other’s work. From 1993 onwards, they both intensively explored the rich possibilities of the computer as an artistic medium, using it both as a photography dark room and as a drawing / painting tool. Their ideas about art were so complementary, that creating works of art together became the rule rather than the exception. This is why since 1997 they present their work under the composite name Schilte & Portielje.

They prefer to work without a preconceived plan or subject. They both select fragments of images from a digitalized library they have built up over the years. Then, still independently from each other, they start to investigate whether the selected image-fragments can be composed into a concept for a new work. During this time-consuming process of transforming, drawing, painting, adding and removing, new options are constantly generated. They frequently exchange the works at hand so that one continues where the other has left off. It is an intuitive way of working in which they are equal, depending heavily on each other’ s critical vision. When eventually an image-concept continues to convince, they jointly develop it further, both technically and artistically. The reasons for working in black and white are manifold. First of all they want their work to be midway between photography and drawing or painting. At the same time, they value the contrast between advanced computer techniques and the slightly nostalgic feel of black and white images which enables them to increase the distance between art and reality. As their work deals with the fundamental aspects of human existence, be it man or woman, sexual identity is not their issue. Ambiguity however, is very important for them, as its creates room for interpretation and identification. In the end they opt to omit meaningful titles and expository texts because they feel these steer the perception of the spectator. As creation, identity and freedom are considered fundamental human needs, art should contain be a healthy element of differentiation. As artists Schilte & Portielje feel the challenge to reflect in a visual way upon the in their view complicated world. After that, for them the interpretation of the result of their work is up to the beholder.