French painter Paul Cezanne once said, “A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”

As a post-impressionist Cezanne knew what he was talking about, the movement focused on avoiding the limitations of impressionism while often exploring vivid color schemes and distortion. If Cezanne was alive today, I think he would have gotten along with contemporary South African painter Schalk van der Merwe quite well! Just like Cezanne, Schalk’s work is filled with emotion in its purest, rawest form.

When working on a new painting Schalk tries to disconnect his mind from his work, capturing only emotions and not over thinking the way they are portrayed. The result is a stunning, vivid portfolio filled with large, visceral portraits that will make you swoon. Each work of art confronts the same emotion Schalk felt during its creation, and yet leaves room to connect and project your own feelings into them. The blurred, distorted faces make the portraits anonymous, forcing you to focus on the feeling of the portrayed instead of their appearance. Together with the anonymous faces, the deep shades and expressive line work add a breath of mystery, making his paintings compelling, alluring, and etched in your brain for a long time.

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