Growing up in Eifel, Germany and the son of artists, Filip filled the endless hours of childhood drawing, often repeatedly sketching imagined horses cavorting across fields. His parents would frequently leave paths of artistic bait to tempt him – Filip specifically remembers his father showing him Giovanni Segantini’s boundless panoramic from 1895. This background means he’s an artist with unusually deep creative roots. When switching from paper to canvas in his adult years, Filip wanted his brushes to command the same sort of freedom as the pencils he’d used as a boy, sketching scenes vigorously among intervals of rubbing out, overpainting and starting again. Much of his paintings for Home no Home trace this search for understanding his craft, the ghosts of his previous workings never fully disappearing, emulating the faint eraser trails left on his drawing pad.
Across Filip’s paintings, he isolates his protagonists across broad Segantinian backgrounds, sometimes camouflaging them in transparent swathes to absorb the landscapes behind. They are often depicted alone, awkwardly hovering, haunted spirits. Many of his compositions are inspired by his interest in photography. As a child he loved his father’s darkroom, giddily anticipating capturing movements and memories and seeing him them emerge as if from nothing in developing chemicals. He was drawn to Man Ray’s solarised photographs, where figures look cast in , or Cindy Sherman’s iconic History Portraits series where she dresses herself in costumes to reflect tropes from . In a similar search for the perfect shot, Filip will spend weeks painting and then scouring his canvas, as variations of composition fluctuate with each twist and turn of brush. He’ll never completely remove these layers – however deft or precise, they become important chapters to the overall story, fast-tracking the beginning and jumping to the end, like a new print in an alkaline bath of developer.
Although each scene Filip paints is imagined, his figures imbue some of his own dramatic sense of isolation while painting in his studio. Unsurprisingly, the painters he looks to for inspiration also paint reclusive figures: Courbet’s self-portrait where the artist fiercely reaches out a desperate hand to the viewer; and Guttuso’s painting Palinuro, with a writhing man swept up dead on the . Filip’s paintings offer a similar sense of melancholy, peopled by tortured characters who seem to oscillate between . Just as the title suggests, in Home no Home, he captures scenes on the fringes, briefly fixing them in washy layers of turpentine so they disperse and bleed into the abyss beneath.
The natural world, and the rush of seasons move turbulently behind each scene, his brushstrokes of lurid colour applied with varying pressures to reflect shifts in weather. This technique isolates his characters even more: they are left still, pensively observing the ever-changing world around. Described by Filip as ‘film stills in motion’, his search for dexterity with brushes see him scribble and smudge paint as if it were graphite. Home no Home are deeply considered yet somehow also spur-of-the-moment wanderings, vigorous searches of his imagination where moments of intimacy hover amid a furore, mutable right up until the last layer of paint has dried.
Filip Henin is currently based in Berlin, Germany. Exhibitions include: Home no Home, Painterspaintingpaintings, (2022). Group shows include Never seen ever seen, Akkurat lab. Fahrenheit, Berlin (2021), Sculturale la successiva, Conzenhof, Cologne (2021), Art auction, Weserhalle, Berlin (2021), Sculturale annuale, la prima, Conzenhof, Cologne (2020), 20 Jahre Kunstgruppe Köln, Salon Schmitz, Cologne (2019), MAXWELL, Compiler.Berlin, Berlin (2019), mi chiedo se c’è un posto in questo mondo…, KM Galerie, Berlin (2019), Bruce Haines Mayfair, London + Adler Düsseldorf at NADA Art Cologne Collaborations, Cologne (2016), Die Dinge, das sind die Anderen, Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2015).