Dark and unsettling 18th century-style paintings with a contemporary edge

Michaël Borremans is a talented Belgian painter and filmmaker whose painting technique draws on 18th century art as well as the works of Édouard Manet and Degas. He also cites the Spanish court painter Diego Velázquez as an important influence.

Born in 1963, he studied at the Hogeschool voor Kunst en Wetenschappen Sint-Lucas in Ghent, and originally trained as a photographer before he turned his attention to drawing and painting in the mid-nineties. He uses old photographs of people and landscapes as inspiration for his work, and, as a complete perfectionist, has an incredible eye to detail when painting his stunning portraits.

Interestingly, he was a teacher at the Stedelijk Secundair Kunstinstituut Gent before he was discovered by another artist and put in touch with Jan Van Imschoot – the founder of the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst – a prestigious museum and art gallery in Belgium. This led to an introduction to Frank Demaegd, owner of Zeno X Gallery in Antwerp, where he had his first major exhibition. The rest, as they say, is history.

With an unsettling combination of solemn-looking characters and unusual scenes, there is always a theatrical angle to his works, which are complex and all at once darkly comical, disturbing, and grotesque. Inspired so heavily by classic painters, his artworks look as though they have been plucked from the past. But it's only when you consider the unconventional narrative that you understand how contemporary they actually are. Discover more over on Facebook.