Adriaen Brouwer, master of emotions
The painter Adriaen Brouwer (1604-1638) from Oudenaarde could hardly compete with the reputations of predecessors like Pieter Bruegel the Elder or contemporaries such as Peter Paul Rubens. However, perhaps the exhibition in the MOU, the museum in Oudenaarde's Gothic Town Hall, will go some way towards changing that?
Adriaen Brouwer is generally recognised for his rough and riotous tavern scenes. Nonetheless, he used a very innovative approach. From and emotional and psychological point of view, he went much further than his fellow artists. His characters are real people who have a genuine experience. They are intensely happy or completely depressed, madly in love and passionate, afraid of an operation without an anaesthetic, genuinely interested in musicians … Certain figures are portrayed in a very dignified manner, such as a farmer cuddling his dog or a person struggling to sharpen a pencil or twig, or a father who wipes his son's bottom with his nose turned up. His painting was also strategic. The viewer's eyes are guided to exactly where he wants them, for example to a dubious character in the background, people sleeping, deviant sexual behaviour, someone passing painful hard stools …
Brouwer was also behind the drastic renovation in the painting of (self-)portraits and landscapes. Some people are featured in hysterics. He was probably also the first to capture people smoking and inhaling tobacco on canvas. He masterfully illustrated the sensory impact of the much stronger tobacco from the 17th century: pleasure, dizziness, intoxication, doziness.
Very recognisable, even in 2018.
More information here.