Since 2021 I made and sold a multitude of Fake Rinus drawings. Each one features the same image of the sea and the same line of text: "No, this is not a real Van de Velde, but thank you for asking".
The first Fake Rinus was made for myself to hang at home, but as more people saw the drawing they also wanted one as well. Before I knew I was drawing a new Fake Rinus every other week and I still am. Some find the visual resemblance striking, some were offended, but luckily most people appreciate the work for what it is meant to be: a parody.
Whenever I create something I enjoy confusing people. I enjoy the moment when they wonder whether I'm being serious or not. To me, Fake Rinus is more than a copy, and more than a joke. The longer you think and talk about it, you uncover more layers of meaning.
The first layer is obviously the visual resemblance, the deep blacks of the charcoal, the size of the canvas, the handwriting, etc... This is the level where some people feel offended, because they see it as a cheap rip off.
It's not a print of a photo of a real Van de Velde. It has been made with respect to the original, drawn by hand on canvas. It took me a while to research and emulate Rinus' process. To get the black to be as black, to imitate the hand writing, to get the smooth halftones.
Just like musicians cover their favourite songs, I cover one of my favourite artworks. Luckily there is more to the Fake Rinus than being a blunt copy.
The first thing almost everyone asks when they see a Fake Rinus is asking whether it's a real one or not. Only to realise immediately it's not, because the answer is written underneath the drawing.
That's the point where most people realise it's a parody and find it witty enough to appreciate it. A Fake Rinus is honest about what it is: not a real Van de Velde. It gives immediate credit to the original artist and it is never pretending to be the real thing. On the back I sign every Fake Rinus with my own name to avoid any confusion.
The next layer, beyond the joke, is a comment on the nature of the artist. "Thank you for asking" holds the assumption that the drawing is as good as a real Van de Velde. It fishes for a compliment and replies too soon, exposing the fragility of my own artist ego. It's safer to hide the doubts about my artistic ambitions behind a joke.
Fake Rinus is not just a single canvas, I made multiple editions. Each one is unique in the same way. Every new Fake Rinus becomes part of a performance.
Besides the visual imitation, I also immerse myself in the narrative of Rinus' work: his journeys into the realms of other artists, his fictitious conversations with David Hockney. Just like Rinus copies Hockney's Tunnel of Trees, I imitate Rinus in his imitations by copying his work and conversing with him through my work.
To me this is where the deepest meaning of the Fake Rinus lies. To me, there is no better way to immerse myself in Rinus' work than by emulating it in the perfect parody, not just visually but by touching the essence of Rinus' journeys as an artist.
Fake Rinus raises questions about originality and authorship in art. If Rinus Van de Velde projects a painting by Hockney and copies it, we consider it art. If Tuymans copies a press photo, it becomes art. The work gains meaning from the overarching narrative of the artists oeuvre and it is no longer a replication.
But what if it was a less known artist? Somebody less established? Would we still consider it art? Are we still wiling to look for the narrative? How far does the work has to deviate from the original in order to consider it real art? Or do we need an art authority like a gallery or a museum to get us to start looking for meaning?
Fake Rinus is not only a parody on Rinus Van de Veldes work, it's a parody on the state of art and the art world today.
I am an artist and designer living and working in Antwerp. I make drawings, I write columns and short stories, I design websites and I have a podcast with 2 episodes. Everything I create is made to make you smile.
For questions and remarks, please email me or DM me on instagram.