Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bas-Relief Art in the 21st Century

Dutch artist Ron van der Ende creates low relief wall-mounted sculptures from salvaged wood. His bas-relief works are incredible constructions that are equal parts optical illusion and trompe l'oeil foolery, intricate experiments in form and artistic textural works of visceral impact.

 "I collect old doors and stuff. Old painted wood that I find in the street. I take it apart and skin it to obtain a 3mm thick veneer with the old paint layers still intact. I construct bas-reliefs that I cover with these veneers much like a constructed mosaic. I do not paint them!"

On the rare occasion he can't find the right color, he visits a warehouse near Rotterdam that stores more than 7,000 old doors. "An afternoon in there with a good flashlight will usually get me exactly what I need," says Van Der Ende.

From a Huffington Post article on Top 10 Artists to Watch: "These are complex and intriguing works that need to be viewed in person. The raw nature of the work is difficult, if not impossible, to fully appreciate from photographs, as the three-dimensional illusion created becomes weakened and the exquisite craftsmanship of on-site construction goes undetected. One of the most fascinating aspects of these wall sculptures is the manner in which they are put together. The technique celebrates the grand tradition of a complex theater backstage rigging of supports and frames, or a movie set of false fronts on Main Street reminiscent of a recreated ghost town."

Where do his ideas come from? "Anything to feed a stream of ideas; scrapbooks, vintage catalogs, image banks. The internet is great for me but so are flea markets."
Cuban artist Elsa Mora creates her own variety of bas-relief out of cut paper.
Calvin Nichols also uses cut paper to create low relief art.
Michael Zelehoski
Michael Zelehoski

Michael Zelehoski incorporates wooden crates, pallets, and chairs into his art, flattening them in an innovative process and rendering what was a three-dimensional object onto a flat plane.

"I deconstruct the objects, cutting them into sometimes hundreds of abstract fragments before reassembling the pieces two-dimensionally. The negative space is filled with carefully fitted pieces of wood, creating a solid plane in which the object is trapped in a parody of its former perspective. The object’s concreteness is in direct contrast to the spatial illusionism of its composition not to mention the perceived autonomy of the picture plane."


  1. Holey Moley! I love his work. I would love to see one up close and look at the construction and pieces of wood. Amazing...!