A Universe Around Landscape, Clouds, Waves

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Painter and comic book artist Kenan Vanel Lamiel takes inspiration from the old masters. We delighted in a late visit to Antwerp’s fine art museum, KMSKA, with a classical soundtrack courtesy of Koninklijk Conservatorium Antwerp, one of many treats offered up on Thursday nights. Immersed in history and masterpieces we found inspiration, talked about creating atmospheres and imagined wandering in alternate universes.

Can you introduce yourself? 

My name is Kenan Vanel Lamiel. I’m 23 years old and born in La Louvière, Wallonia. When I was six, I started to draw with comic books and back then, I already wanted to tell a story. My first inspiration was the Nickelodeon channel, I was always watching these cartoons and I always wanted to tell my own story with my own characters.

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/646cd1ddd622bba2b0e665ff_differentclassKenan%20Vanel%20Lamiel%20(c)%20Sarah%20Stone10.webp"/>

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And where do you get your stories from? 

I'm inspired by animals so I created a wolf named Sam and he was my first character. This is the beginning of a long series of comics I made, just folding the paper and drawing on the pages. I have about 30 books like this. I’m studying comic books now and it’s the first step in my artist’s career. Next, I want to come to Antwerp.

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What is special about Antwerp? 

I want to study Fine Art Painting. I’m not looking to just graduate but to get advice from other people who love art and who can help me to discover myself and find the best way to express myself. My style is completely different from the beginning. I also really love this city and I feel like I can be myself. The mentality is different compared to Brussels and Wallonia. 

What is the subject of your paintings?

I would call it the atmosphere, the sky, the waves, the landscape. I don’t want to be focused on representation but tell a story like in my comic books. Drawing clouds and landscapes is what I like and I want to have the same feeling when I’m painting. This is why I’m mixing techniques for my paintings. The viewer can have their own idea of the representations in the painting and tell their own story.

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/646cd1dd74e8a1ca1cc21dce_differentclassKenan%20Vanel%20Lamiel%20(c)%20Sarah%20Stone7.webp"/>

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How was the museum today?

I really liked the musicians. I could listen to them all day, it was so beautiful. Incredible. I want to be one, in an alternate universe.

I was impressed by the infrastructure, the colours of the walls and the mood of the city. My favourite part of the museum was, of course, the old masters. They remind me of…  not nostalgia, but when I was at the school of fine arts I learned a lot about the old masters. They were my first favourite paintings, my first inspiration.

I really liked the musicians, I could listen to them all day

What inspired you today?  

It was a painting: Warships in a Heavy Storm by Ludolf Bakhuizen. I am focused on creating a universe around clouds and waves, a mixture of figurative and abstract art. This is why this kind of painting I can see a different way to go forward in my work… the way he paints the clouds, the sky and the way he puts a dynamic form in the waves. I need a lot of training [Laughs]. Also Cleopatra by Alexandre Cabanel, he’s one of my favourite artists. When I graduated from the school of fine art, I started painting and it was this kind of thing I wanted to present.

<img class="editorial-image" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/646cd1dc7dc42d36d8c60355_differentclassKenan%20Vanel%20Lamiel%20(c)%20Sarah%20Stone5.webp"/>

Do you think there is a different atmosphere, being here in the evening?

Completely. There were fewer people than during the day in the weekend, it was a feeling that you can take all your time to look at a masterpiece. In the mornings there are many other people looking too. I think this is one of my favourite museums in Belgium, the fashion museum too. I have a lot of interest in fashion. Around the quarantine I started to look at outfits and fashion shows, it’s a passion for me today.

It’s a feeling that you can take all your time to look at a masterpiece

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/646cd1dd6ab6f66ce96bf2db_differentclassKenan%20Vanel%20Lamiel%20(c)%20Sarah%20Stone3.webp"/>

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I think a lot of artists express themselves through fashion

This is why I love this world, this world of artists, it’s so different. They express themselves. They are so free, especially in this city. 

Is the museum contemporary or relevant enough for young artists today? 

It is very much focused on the old masters and not necessarily on contemporary art. It’s a mood, with the musicians playing classical music in front of old paintings. They are telling history. The architecture reminds me of ancient Greece, it is beautiful. Maybe they can make more space for contemporary artists, for young artists. They could help people to discover new artists. People know Caravaggio, or maybe Basquiat or Andy Warhol. Now it's time to make space for the new generation. We need to talk about it now.

Now its time to make space for the new generation

<img class="editorial-image" src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/646cd1dde5709314971d4912_differentclassKenan%20Vanel%20Lamiel%20(c)%20Sarah%20Stone1.webp"/>

Any plans to share with us?

I’m actually working on a comic book, the comic of my life. I put all my energy and all my love into this work. It’ll be dropped next year. You need to be ready.

<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> @bluek9n / @kmska_museum </div></div>

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