Brecht Lanfossi or @nozem.art on Instagram is a collagist and a digital painter based in Belgium. Brecht studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent but later decided to leave the academy.
don’t compare yourself to other artists
WHY Have you decided to drop out of the college?
I think, I mainly did it because of the contradictory structure of the whole system behind the course of study. I don’t know if it only was an issue at the particular college I went to or if it is still a well-known and widespread one. I only know for sure that for me it ended in a total dysfunction of what I was supposed and/or wanted to do there.
To give one of many examples of that contradictory structure it’s best to talk about what was said at the very beginning of the course. In a first conversation aimed at the group of the new students of the course, they said that we shouldn’t make our work for them but for ourselves. I was, of course, very happy hearing that because it gave me a feeling of artistic freedom, an easy-going atmosphere to develop myself in.
Not much later this, of course, turned out to be a lie or at least a sort of overstatement. You could intuitively feel how teachers tried to manipulate your whole process in a very non-constructive way. They only forced their preferences and perception on the process.
This and a lot of other examples made me feel like I couldn’t be my truest self and that escalated in such a manner that the bond between me and the teachers became unworkable. How can you make honest work straight from the heart in such a situation?
Did this decision influence your creative process?
It led to the simple fact that I didn’t want to have to do anything with making art anymore and that feeling lasted for almost five years. I was younger and immature and didn’t know how to deal with those kinds of feelings more constructively or maybe I was too rebellious to take any responsibility for fixing my damaged perception about the whole situation.
I didn’t want to do Anything with making art anymore and that feeling lasted for almost five years
After these five years of not making art I sort of woke up and realized that I could create again in an easy-going atmosphere of artistic freedom because of the contradictory structure of the whole system behind a course of study that wouldn’t be a problem anymore.
So the period between 2015 and now became and still is one of being a self-taught artist. One could say that this way of creating feels a lot more satisfying and it really is.
Can you tell more about what goes into your work?
For me making art is all about expressing myself without any limitations and/or boundaries and those things are exactly what goes into my work. It’s giving me the chance to communicate about certain spiritual ideas and exploring the nature of perception. So I find it very important putting that in my work too.
I also felt that my way of working became more intuitive in comparison with my early days. This way of working resulted in a sort of total dislike towards doing any research or contemplating too much before starting a piece of work. I don’t want to run into inhibiting factors anymore after my previous experiences at college where I lost a lot of time too.
Where and how do you find images for your collages?
I was working in a library for two years where I found a lot of the images in the old written-off books. Those books went to the second-hand sales for 0.50 euro cents ($0.46) and often dated from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s or 1990s.
It took a lot of time to browse through all of these books searching for images that attracted me, cutting them out and scanning as a back-up or for digital use. Now I have some sort of database of images. So in the end, it was all worth it.
What struggles and insecurities do you have to overcome as an artist?
I have to overcome letting my potential go to waste because I don’t feel confident or ready enough. But at the same time, I think I also have to overcome setting unachievable or overwhelming goals to be accomplished in a short period of time. I still have to learn that a thoughtful direction is way more important than speed.
a thoughtful direction is way more important than speed.
Would you ever be interested in using other media?
Actually, I’m already playing with the idea of using other media for the new art series I’m planning to make. But for now it’s still a sort of a mental framework I’m contemplating about before making specific decisions in regards of which other media and materials I’ll be using. I already can lift a corner of the veil by confirming that the new series will be probably called “The Gemcat Series”.
What advice can you give to the new artists?
Don’t take the work that you make so damn serious. It’s a good thing to put it all into perspective, in a humorous and destructive way if necessary, or with some self-mockery because it will keep your feet on the ground. I think, staying grounded is necessary for making honest art. Make sure your art is a reflection or even an extension of your true personality so don’t compare yourself to other artists.
Follow Brecht on Instagram @nozem.art