With his eye on the big prize of an Oscar, David Hulst’s newest film The Painter is the perfect antidote to the prevailing cultural obsession with the art of the surreal.
Hulste has spent much of his career working in the surrealist subgenre, which he says “has always been an important and relevant form of art”.
It’s no surprise, then, that the documentary The Painter takes a slightly different approach to the subject matter, exploring the influence of surrealist paintings on artists like Salvador Dali, Salvador Dalí, and David Bowie.
The aim of The Painter, the first documentary ever made about surrealism, is to shed light on how and why this style of art came to be.
I would like to explore the question of why some of these paintings, some of them from the 1950s and 60s, really are, and what it is about them that’s so important, he says.
For me, I’ve always thought that if you look at the art world in general, there’s a lot of really good, well-made, well thought-out work that’s been done by very well-informed, very well informed, well trained artists.
They’ve been able to do the thing that they wanted to do and that was what I’m interested in.
It was also really important to me that the artist was really important and not just a painter, which is what I think a lot is the case with the vast majority of the art work out there, Hulston says.
“So many of these pieces were very much made by people who really had very much a vested interest in being a painter.”
Hulst and his team have spent two years exploring the surrealism of artists like Dalí and Bowie and, to their surprise, find that many of the best-known artists are not just artists, but also people with a deep interest in the medium.
Dali is a great example of a painter who had a profound fascination with the subject of art, according to Hulsten.
He was so enamoured with it, and so deeply involved in the art, that he spent his entire life working on painting and writing about it.
“Dali was the only artist I knew who spent a great deal of time in the studio with his eyes open,” he says, explaining why his early work was so heavily influenced by the work of the artist.
The paintings on the walls of Dalí’s studio are also a great source of inspiration for Hulstein, who believes the painting style and the way it’s expressed through the art form has a profound influence on people’s thinking.
“You have to imagine that it’s the most beautiful thing that ever has happened to you,” he explains.
And the way they’re expressed in these paintings are a little bit of the same, but they’re also so evocative that they’re almost like paintings of the past.
We want to show that there’s this incredible amount of time that goes into the creation of the painting, and the painting’s very important, and there’s an incredible amount that goes in to the making of it, which you can feel from the perspective of an artist.
“There’s an enormous amount of thought, an incredible deal of creativity, a tremendous amount of imagination and the ability to communicate it in the way that you feel it.”
Hulsten says the documentary also explores the relationship between surrealist artists and art-world professionals, including artists and collectors.
There’s a huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes in the world of art-making, he explains, but it’s often overlooked, or even dismissed.
You see these guys who are going through their careers, and these people are like, ‘Why don’t you work for us?’
And they say, ‘We can’t get our money from the artists, we don’t have any money, and we’re so passionate about their work. So we don