This week, KAZoART met with Hugo Pondz, a Belgian artist who is the creative hand behind minimalist landscape paintings bathed in hypnotic blues. In this exclusive interview, step into Pondz’s vast sapphire sky and find out what inspired him to embark on his artistic journey.

Hugo Pondz in a few words…

Hugo Pondz dans son atelier
Hugo Pondz in his studio

The work of Hugo Pondz is like a breath of fresh air. Positioned at the exact center of a full/empty dichotomy, Pondz’s cheerful universe is one of sunny days on New York roof tops, glistening swimming pools and lush golf courses. The common denominator in all his work is its singular depth.

K. Where does your love of painting come from?

Hugo Pondz, Le Signal
Hugo Pondz, The Signal

I began painting quite late in life. That said, my father was an antique dealer so I was always surrounded by art. My mother painted small country landscapes – very unpretentiously, just for her own pleasure. So one day I helped myself to her paint kit and did what I could. I ended up briskly mixing the paint and then spreading it onto the canvas very coarsely, there was no recognisable technique. I was 16 years old at the time and this attempt, which only happened once, was a catastrophe!

K. What/who are your artistic influences and sources of inspiration?

Hugo Pondz, Liquid days
Hugo Pondz, Liquid days

I only got back to painting around the age of 28 upon meeting Jean-Pierre Hubert. He showed me old-fashioned painting techniques of applying light glazes, he taught me about the chemistry of colours that far many too artists forsake, and he introduced me to Surrealism. That was when I discovered the world of De Chirico, which left a mark on me.

This melancholic universe was populated by emptiness, architecture and shadows, which later inspired Edward Hopper in part. In this painting, which was realised at the beginning of my journey, the De Chirico-esque architecture has been replaced by balloons.

K. Can you describe your creative process?

I usually start with a character I have seen in a certain posture, then I try to find the setting and atmosphere that would best suit my vision. It pleases me to depict individuals in my works and thus give them other lives in a painting. My partner Aline, who also signs my paintings, is pictured below. She was looking at the sea in Dinard the day I was inspired to paint Lenny.

Hugo Pondz, Lenny
Hugo Pondz, Lenny (oil on canvas)
Hugo Pondz
Hugo Pondz

Current events and history can also be used in my creative process. I’m currently working on a painting titled The First Key which is focused on the World Trade Center.

Hugo Pondz, The First Key / La Première Clé
Hugo Pondz, The First Key (preparatory sketch in colour)

For me, golf courses are also vast spaces of exploration. There, all of the De Chirican heritage is present but expressed in another form.

Hugo Pondz, After the Storm
Hugo Pondz, After the Storm (oil on canavs)

K. What is the meaning of the recurring character facing the horizon while perched on a wall or ledge?

The wall was part of a series, but if you look at the golf course series, you can see that it’s disappearing. I can’t give you a psychoanalysis behind what this wall represents and what’s more, I’d prefer to leave it to the individual to find a meaning of their own. The same is true for the character, who is not always turned towarwds the horizon. I often question myself about a lot of things and it could be that this character is the best representation of said questioning.

Hugo Pondz, Les projets futurs
Hugo Pondz, The Future Projects

K. Of all your works, which one best represents you?

From a content point of view, I think The First Key would be a good example. You know that paintings are not only used to embellish walls, they can also be used to question and investigate. The events of September 11 demonstrate a case of media manupulation on a very large scale. We must denounce this, no matter how we do it. And from a formal and artistic point of view, I don’t really ask which work best represents my personhood, there’s a bit of me in all of them I guess.