The name Schilte & Portielje stands for the artist duo Huub Schilte (1953) and Jacqueline Portielje (1958), who create joint works of art in which the human figure as an androgynous and curious creature takes centre stage. Their joint creations incorporate photography, drawing and painting. They live and work in Rotterdam.
The two artists have different artistic backgrounds: Schilte graduated as an architect and Portielje has a degree in autonomous painting. In 1985, when they each had a studio in the same building, they found their artistic ideas and assumptions to be complementary and developed a mutual inspiration. At the time, Schilte preferred painting and he was making wall paintings; Portielje was increasingly combining painting with photography.
Both artists were individually collecting pictorial fragments that fascinated them. These finds were saved digitally and the database that they built up over the years became an important source for the first individual works of the artists. In a continuing artistic process of exchange and interaction, however, it also served the works that began to arise from their plastic and associative dialogue. When in 1993 the artists began to use the digital opportunities of the computer in this artistic process, their collaboration took shape. Since 1997 Huub Schilte and Jacqueline Portielje have presented themselves as an artist duo: Schilte & Portielje.
Crossing the borders of individuality to justify this cooperation is now also the basic concept of the actual works. They cannot be defined in unambiguous terms of discipline, shape, content or material. Are the predominantly black and white compositions photographs or drawings? Or is the work painted? The different disciplines are subtly mixed. The play of light and shadows, both in the total image and in the rendering of the individual areas, puts the viewer on a different track time and again.
The human figure is central, but the division between male and female is arbitrary; both can figure in one image. In addition, the figure can also partly be shaped by plant and animal motifs, or by abstract geometrical forms or industrial motifs. It is not a fremdkörper but an inseparable and apparently natural part of the overall appearance. And in some works narrative elements are added to the figure, suggesting a familiar, but completely unknown story.
The decision to use black and white images also relates to this ambiguity; besides the digital computer techniques, Schilte & Portielje also want to refer to the early years of photography with a certain nostalgia. The division between art and reality continues to be ambiguous and mysterious.
Image rights: MPV Gallery