Victor Elberse (Rotterdam, Holland)
Words by James McBride
Victor Elberse, a multidimensional visual artist based in the Netherlands, is an expert at creating startling narratives built on surreal urban scenery. His paintings, charcoal etchings, animations, and ambitious installations all play with our sense of space and architecture.
The disorienting aspects of urban spaces permeate his work in a way reminiscent of M.C. Escher’s vertiginous plays on perspective. In painstakingly crafted line drawings such as Lost City 1 and 2, complex combinations of towers, walls, and doorways are seen from a vantage point floating somewhere above. Precise, assertive line work shares visual space with impressionistic, inchoate cloudforms, dreamlike. In his paintings, which add muted but intense streaks of color, he expands on this kind of flowing cubism while adding scenery inspired by the industrial architecture of Rotterdam’s port district.
Throughout it all, modern urban scenes are infused with fantasy elements, some unsettling and some playful. In Metropolis City, he seems to nod to Fritz Lang’s classic Metropolis, rendering a tangle of imposing, abandoned buildings whose exteriors writhe with ambiguously forbidding, tentacled creatures. And in his entertaining animations, half-human and half-animal characters – whose protagonist is ‘Colin the Gay Guinea Pig’ – party in seedy dive bars wearing vintage costumes.
Overall, the combination of polluted industrial landscapes, eerie shipwrecks, and insightful nude studies is the work of an artist fascinated by the intersection of architecture, fantasy, and the appeal of the underbellies of our societies. The effect is like stepping into a foreign, but somehow familiar, alternate universe.