Imaginary realism

Before 1924, Carel Willink’s paintings were mainly abstract. Then he develops his own, magic-realist style of painting. His own term for it is ‘imaginary realism’: his work is based on reality, but painted from his imagination.

Distant and lost cultures

The two nude women in the landscape are the goddess Venus and Berenice, wife of the Egyptian king Ptolemy. Berenice has her braids cut off and offers these to Venus, as her husband returned home from a battle safe and sound. Ptolemy is furious about this, until his court mathematician Conon of Samos assures him that the queen’s beautiful hair had been woven among the stars. The huge castle on the hill refers to distant and lost cultures.

Atmosphere of emptiness and decline

Willink has painted the nudes and the landscape realistically. However, the painting has an illusory and ominous atmosphere of emptiness and decline. The bright colours make the landscape contrast sharply with the dark sky, although the light comes from all sides. The women have a lifeless appearance and seem randomly placed in this landscape.