Han Schuil was born in Voorschoten in The Netherlands, in 1958. While his paintings may initially look like abstractions, they are in fact concentrated reflections on the real world. He takes fleeting images – a building, a repair in the road, or, famously, a Batman mask hanging on the door of a WC – and turns them into paintings that demand time and stillness from viewers. They also demand the same things from the artist himself: as he works slowly, each painting gradually takes on its own life, at some distance from the original image but still inextricably tied to it. His works overstep dimensional boundaries, as he bends and dents and punctures his aluminium surfaces – seemingly ‘sculptural’ devices that radically affect the painted image. He does this not to make sculptures or installation pieces, but so that his paintings enter into our space more directly: like icons, their meaning and value comes from the ways in which they alter the relationships between real and imagined worlds. Schuil’s paintings aren’t a critique of modernism or abstraction, but rather an engagement with the history of painting as a whole and the role it plays in our lives. He forces us to think about how images function in our fast-paced world, and shows us that painting still has the power to stop us in our tracks.
Schuil’s work has been exhibited extensively around the world, including in a major exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He has also shown at public institutions in Europe, Asia and South America. He lives and works in Amsterdam.