Filip Firlefijn has drawn more than 1,000 A4 portraits and painted more than 120 large acrylic portraits. Most paintings are based on his sketches, mostly ballpoint sketches, or “quick ballpoint scribbles” as he likes to call them, “a good way to exercise or to get a quicker eye and hand”.
As a portrait artist he was inspired by the whole history of portrait art, of course, but really influenced only by artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein, Chuck Close and Cy Twombly. The pop-art side (large scale “replica”) comes from Warhol and Lichtenstein. He claims Chuck Close confirmed his idea of portraits in large format and looking at what Cy Twombly had done on large pieces of canvas convinced him to paint some monochrome paintings in a “wilder” fashion.
That monochrome magenta also refers to the early Belgian comics that were often printed with just one color (often blue, green or magenta). Both the sketches and a large part of the paintings are monochrome, but the color portraits actually also clearly hold a reference to the world of comics, just as the monochrome paintings, which makes Filip Firlefijn’s work a bit more Belgian than the layman would gather.
Belgium really has got a rich history of comic books. Filip’s portraits have risen from that background.