Tom Poelmans – 1984 Lives & works in Antwerp

“The illusion of free will”.

A painter often has the idea that he has the freedom to paint whatever he wants. Maybe this is true, maybe it isn’t. Each time whenever I start with a new painting I like to begin with tis rather naïve thought that I can painting anything I want.


The idea that I can paint something completely new, which is off course not true, strangely soothes me. I believe that every painting you make, eventually results in a confrontation with this illusion of free will. Afterall as a painter you’re in a way restricted to a certain degree and often you get in trouble because of something you’ve tried on the canvas.


When that happens you search for ways to get out of that situation. So I guess in fact there is not much actual freedom. As a painter you (always) have to make choices and you’re always limited by one thing or another. The paintings have a function as specific pinpricks in the tradition of painting, but at the same time they’re attempts to escape any conceptual or pictorial framework.


The final painting is a residue of this struggle. A process or a journey with endless possibilities but which requires you to take decisions. A process that starts with a drawing and ends with a totally unpredictable image. For me painting is like traveling without moving.

Education & Residence

2019 Residency: The La Brea Studio residency  LA (US)

2012 Residency: SVA summer residency New York (US)

2012 Residency: Isola Comacina (IT)

2011 Residency: Vrije Ruimten Zuidas AIR, Amsterdam (NL)

2010 Master Degree Arts, option Painting, Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp (B)



Prize Grote Actuele TekenPrijs Ronse – second laureate – 2016

Prize Grote Prijs Ernest Albert – selection 2012

Prize Gaverprijs – selection 2012

Prize Camille Huysmans Laureate – 2010