Swyncop, Philippe (1878-1949)

Swyncop, Philippe (1878-1949)

Ebullient works arise from the brush of charismatic Belgian artist Philippe Swyncop. Swncop devoted his painterly career to subjects of light-hearted joy and reverie, alongside a successful tenure as an illustrator.

Swyncop’s artistic journey began at the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, the artistic heart of Belgium. Here he was taught by two eminent artists of the time, Constant Montald (1863-1944) and Jean-François Portaels (1818-1895). The glorious colour and female figures favoured by both artists might have made their impression on the young artist. However, the greatest influence upon Swyncop’s art was, it seems, his travels across Europe.

France, Italy, and in particular Spain drew him in and offered a myriad of inspirations. Here he might have married this earlier inspiration from Montald and Portaels with his own characteristic flair as an artist, for Swyncop depicts mainly female figures in a chromatic cacophony.

Members of the exciting and intriguing worlds of music and dance entice the viewer with their knowing smiles and smirks. These women resonate power and appeal, dynamically posed and set against swathes of fluttering fabric, or presented with bursting blooms of flowers. These only add to the lavishness, the mouth-watering display of colour.

Swyncop paints with an impressionistic zeal, which only adds to the excitement, the intensity of his works. Even in more elegant and gentile works of sitters posed demurely, this impressionistic air adds a modernity and spirit. Yet there is also something so authentically lifelike in these images. The eyes of his female subjects possess vim and vigour, and above all a certainty of character. They master the artist.  

Swyncop lived for a time in Spain before returning to Brussels. Here, his attention turned towards the art of illustration. He contributed line drawings with just as much personality and joie de vivre as his paintings to books and magazines. Such illustrations he also added to letters to friends, saying something of the constant vivacity of his work, and his vim as an artist.

Swyncop was an active part of artistic life within Belgium. He was a member of the group ‘Le Sillon,’ whose favouritism of luminous colour certainly suited Swyncop’s tastes. He was also involved with the inter-war Auderghem artistic circle, as well as exhibiting frequently with different groups and salons across Belgium.

Swyncop’s younger brother Charles Swyncop (1895-1970) was also an artist, producing works inspired by his sibling’s, who taught him his tricks.

Swyncop’s ebullient works were apparently matched by his personality. A light-hearted manner produced gorgeously light and playful work which remain as a fascinating legacy.

Today, a number of his works are held in the museums of fine art in Brussels and Ghent.

1878

Born in Brussels, Belgium.

1892-1898

Studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels.

1900

Awarded the Godecharle Prize.

1902

Exhibited at the Ghent Salon, Belgium.

1905

Exhibited with the ‘Als ick kan’ group in Antwerp, Belgium.

1920

Exhibited at the Maison d'Art Moderne, Brussels, Belgium.

1921

Exhibited at the Galerie Boigelot, Brussels, Belgium.

1949

Died in Saint-Gilles, Belgium. 

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