About Dirk Castelein
When you allow Dirk Castelein to speak about his work, there is no stopping him. Not using decisive, charging, full-blown sentences, but a rapid succession of onsets that are presently dismissed to construct new, better formulated trains of thoughts. After which a short break indicates the archival of yet another turn of phrase with which he tries to clarify himself. This way he rather seems to apologise for the paintings than to boast about them. This modesty is not a charade, but quite characteristic of the way in which the art of Dirk comes about. Sometimes he makes you feel like the painting does everything in its power not to complete itself. A formerly applied stroke or colour is erased with an angry gesture to make room for a new “thought”. Many of his works are thus built from different stages of overpainting, sometimes in retakes that are introduced long after the first brushstrokes.
“Wat af is, is niet gemaakt” (meaning: that which is complete, has not been created) is the title of a Dutch collection of essays by Paul Valéry, which is lying around in the studio of the painter. Dirk Castelein harbours a similar distrust of his own work. Something that has been created in one stroke, must be very suspicious. It has to be contained, can marinate for a while in the studio and in the mind of the painter.