Image above Going Nowhere, 2014 © Sammy Slabbinck
Sammy Slabbinck never went to art school – coming from a family of artists, he absorbed creativity and a sense of artistic freedom quite naturally. “No school could ever replace that,” says Belgian artist whose list of clients now includes Humo Magazine, Blue Q, Urban Graphics, Museum of Sex, Nescafé, Peugeot, HP, Disney, and many others.
Image above Where have you been hiding lately?, 2015 © Sammy Slabbinck
Manipulating found images and advertisements from vintage publications, he started making collages after closing his modern art gallery in 2009. Today, Slabbinck masterfully transforms dated imagery into bold and provocative compositions by means of nonstop experimentation, playing around with an extensive collection of retro cuttings from magazines and books circa 50s, 60s, and 70s. “Most of that goes into preparation – looking, cutting, putting things in piles. Then I look for other things, over and over. I’m not a painter, so I can’t foresee what I need, like thinking a red chair or a blue sky would look good, I have to try things,” notes Slabbinck.
Right: Playtime © Sammy Slabbinck. Left: Above & Beyond
Being influenced by surrealists like Jacques Prévert and René Magritte, Slabbinck juxtaposes vintage and contemporary imagery, creating his own visual language with a sarcastic twist. Comprising both digital prints and original hand cut collages on paper, his body of work portrays a bizarre yet engaging reality, maintaining an aesthetically pleasant balance between strikingly different elements, unfolding intriguing visual stories. In his artistic approach, Slabbinck uses both classic and up-to-date composition techniques, rendering dynamic collage prints, restructuring and layering imagery by mixing the opposites – monochrome and color, boldness and subtleness, humor and drama. Slabbinck triggers viewer’s imagination, shamelessly playing with proportions and perspective, bringing unexpected scenarios to life. “Mid-century advertisements have a certain look that appeals even up to this day,” observes the artist. “There is a sense of innocence in them that’s very inviting to work with. The characters in these ads can function as actors in the collage, and I, as the director, can give them a second life by putting them in a new surreal landscape.”
The show runs through January 9, 2016 at Michael Hoppen Gallery (London).
Text by Kelly Korzun