Tom Melsen is a Harlem based artist. His marvelously expressive paintings are both completely modern yet feel stepped in the classical past. Dark yet sensitive, the strong brush strokes will draw you into the mystery of the identity of his subject and the turmoil of their emotions [Art Connect Berlin)

Tom Melsen is a dutch artist, born in Rotterdam. Melsen is best known for his paintings, for which he has been nominatad for numerous awards, and winning the abstract art contest in 2016 by International Gallery Of The Arts in Canada. His paintings have been published in magazines worldwide and Melsen published a collection of artbooks. His work has been widely exhibited in group and solo exhibitions around the world.

Melsen’s collection of paintings consists of abstract studies, on canvas. The chaotic order of the brushstrokes seem to translate the inner personality and the struggles of the subject. The arrangement of the portraits are reminiscent of classical paintings, buried under modern abstraction that suggests the inner turmoil of the subjects. Melsen has a very distinctive style and uses strong colour contrasts. His art is often thought provoking, dramatic and powerful.

Melsen has an unusual way of painting faces. They are almost unrecognizable and dark, but with such energy. In Memories (from 2015), the person portrayed  seems to be melting in his chaotic self or maybe just emerging up from a bad trip. The person has suffered a huge blow and his life is shattered. It is just brilliant how all the shattered pieces have clearly come from his being. In “Wedding Day” (from 2014) Melsen portraits a bride sitting on a (church)bench with yellow, pink and green flowers in her hands. A tender moment captured wonderfully. Both paintings have been exhibited during Melsen’s solo exhibition in Rotterdam, in 2015. Melsen loves painting portraits; capturing a person’s spirit. Like Francis Bacon, Melsen never paints from a pose. He prefers using photographs and almost all of his portraits are men.

Up until 2018 Melsen only painted a handful of self-portraits. Most significant self-
portraits are the ones painted at age twenty-five and the other at the age of twenty-seven. Both of them successfully exhibited in Rotterdam and Berlin, Obviously there were more self-portraits made, but many of them have been destroyed by Melsen himself. His self-portrait at the age of twenty-seven is a captivating, sombre image. It’s an emotional and expressive piece as one can feel the anguish.

His portraits, packed with personality and movement explore the inner soul. Something
that is seldom seen. Melsen’s painting called ‘ The Scream II” is  a good example of this.
Obviously its been inspired by the works of Francis Bacon and Munch’s famous 1893  painting The Scream. Looking at the dramatic painting you can almost hear it scream. The man (or  perhaps woman?) with it’s mouth wide open; all you can see is pain. It’s a terrifying image, especially set against the dark background. It may be a wonderful and horrible painting at the same time.

Tom Melsen photographed in his atelier (2019)

“Everyone on these portraits seem to struggle with something. To me, it feels like they are all living in darkness. I love dramatic paintings, but it’s not that I am an unhappy person at all. It’s just that I find darkness in art very interesting. I like to use dark colors and big brushes to create strong, bold lines; their effect is quite impressive” (ArtConnect Berlin, 2015)

In Melsen’s later work (from late 2015 until now) we can clearly see a difference in his  painted portraits. Melsen uses deep, saturated colors. Bold tone contrasts which gives his work power and expressive content. He uses big brushes, whereas before he mostly used to paint with smaller brushes and palette knifes.
In one of his latest works “The Widow”, originally titled “The Weeping Widow” one can see an expression of grief or sorrow experienced from loss,  or just a state of morbid angst as the red shows burning and cindered embers seething through the hollow of the mouth. Black and white wings expresses a glimpse of movement during a period of acceptance, after losing someone precious. Looking deeper into the psychological interpreted colors and forms one can see fleeting emotions within the form of this Widow who is weeping.

“A master at capturing emotion in a way that words could never attain”