The Perspective of Robbie Cornelissen
The Perspective of Robbie Cornelissen shows how Cornelissen is able to create the suggestion of spaces and dimensions in his drawings and films that are only possible in dreams.
A dazzling amount of grey pencil lines form the base of Robbie Cornelissen’s drawings. They create a reality that aim to be both strange, bizarre and yet so obvious.
Cornelissen was born in Utrecht in 1954. After studying Biology and Ecology, he became a biology teacher at a high school in 1987. When he fell ill for a year by the end of the eighties and was hardly able to work, he started to draw lines on paper, often only 15 minutes a day. Later on he would describe the sketches as ‘invisibly drawing’. Fragile images surged from the paper, phantasms that would surprise those who saw them. He got into new perspectives; a whole new inner-world that had to be explored. The ability to draw brought him an unsuspected gift; the feeling to be able to return to past times, being a little boy again who would explore a self-created fantasyland, carefree. His drawings send out enormous pleasure. His monumental drawings reflect imaginary architectural spaces, cryptic figures and non-recognizable scenes. The process of creating these drawings is an almost meditative action, creating ‘zen-art’, but at the same time it can be annoying and irritating, according to Cornelissen.
In 1996 he felt the need to organize his thoughts and images and created a series of drawings called ‘The Reserve’. Variations on the imagery of this reserve were further explored in a series of smaller drawings: ‘twelve thoughts on a reserve for an unknown species”. Previous work usually had a mostly white background. Figures, half man, half animal, were placed in an undefined space. Now, the background became the center of the drawings. The Reserve doesn’t represent a certain vision; it is more a system of thoughts in which more than 180 drawings of different sizes reflect the reserve in all kinds of variations: the circus, the jungle, a deserted factory hall, a cage, or an exhibition hall. The drawings recall spaces that one would encounter in one’s dreams only. You recognize objects, human beings and animals but you can’t place them. As intangible as these created worlds may be, they have the tendency to feel familiar at the same time. In a way, it seems as if they were just always there, but have now been visible to us through the work of Cornelissen.
His drawings are often voluminous, which creates the illusion that the audience can walk right into the created worlds and stroll around. The longer you look, the more miniscule details you will see. The drawing ‘When the circus comes to town’ shows a circus tent surrounded by an enormous see-through wall. The combination creates the image of a fortress surrounded by an endless steep abyss. If you zoom in, an enormous variation of surprising details become visible. Almost every square centimeter seems to host an immense vibration of activity.
Cornelissen’s imagery is not easily explained. Symbols occur, but the world he draws is not imaginary to him. Alex de Vries wrote about Cornelissen’s work: ‘all that is recognizable in his drawings is always a way to support one in matters that one can not understand in every day life. A drawing of Robbie Cornelissen will always make you have the feeling that you have no ground under your feet and that you are falling in an abyss until you realize that in his world, gravity produces some sort of weightlessness. There is noting to fall back on and you can float freely through his work.’ His animated films, like ‘The Big Memory’, give you the same feeling. Cornelissen’s artwork and films are being exhibited all over the world.
In ‘The Perspective of Robbie Cornelissen’ we get an idea of how his films and drawings were created and get an insight in the artist’s motivation.