Bram Verstraeten has been doing things his own way all his life. Growing up in the Zeeland Polders for example, whilst going to school in Antwerp and Ghent.
Those secluded polders, with literally and figuratively a lot of space to experiment in, are the backdrop and studio for Bram's intrinsic urge to create. He imagined becoming a carpenter, little realising that this was laying the foundations for an authentic artistry.
His nostalgia for that youthful life is a major factor in his work and the fact that he still integrates his own handiwork from the 1980's in new creations, is an example of this. Even today he imagines fantastical, almost childlike scenes and lucid dreams, in which he himself has a leading role.
Those scenes and dreams get transformed into small statues and installations by this self-taught artist. Sometimes he is represented on his own, other times along with his freakishly realistic family members. Perhaps in a snow-white coating, or maybe in a flashy 'jacket', sometimes stand-alone but most of the time as a series of statues that are part of a sequence.
Bram's works can be strung together with a fine and subtle thread: the artist represents himself as an anatomically fine figure - whether or not idealised - in an heroic role, but at the same time with a self-referential wink. A tough adventurer with a heart of gold.
Text: Roel D'Hollander