Dutch artist Stefan Bleekrode brings urban landscapes to life with the help of pen and paper. His impressive black-and-white drawings depict famous cities from a bird’s perspective and point out even the smallest details to the spectator. His drawings of Budapest portray some of its most important landmarks, though seen from above and probably in more detail than you have experienced before.
The 30-year-old artist and autodidact started drawing as soon as he learned to hold a pencil. When he was 10 he visited Paris with his father and was so impressed by its beauty that he decided to draw a complete cityscape of it, only leaning on his memory. This is when his impressive work began and ever since he has been continuously developing his pen art.
Several years ago he also became interested in painting. His other passion, travelling, took him to many different parts of the world. He makes a snapshot of different scenes in his mind, then – to preserve these floating moments – quickly puts everything he has seen on paper.
Over the years he kept perfecting his skills and he is drawing more and more detailed portraits of city scenes as he sees them.
Lifelike drawings from above
The young man returns to cities such as London, Paris and New York from time to time, looking for inspiration. There are cities where he has to take long walks in the streets to find an inspiring scene, while in others, such as Budapest, the artist falls in love at first sight.
He keeps returning to Budapest, as he finds inspiration for all kinds of projects: “I like this atmosphere of decadence that can be felt in all of Budapest. Since I am a real romantic in my heart I enjoy being in places that enchant people and bring them back to another era. In Budapest it’s so easy to be enchanted.”
Bleekrode’s lifelike pictures prove that the artist is very impressed by the whole city – ranging from the view of District V over the Chain Bridge, the Parliament and up to the Western Railway Station (Nyugati pályaudvar), shown from the birds’ perspective.
“There are a lot of places that I really like. Both the Keleti and Nyugati railway stations are depicted in many of my drawings. These are two of the most beautiful examples of railway station architecture from 19th-century Europe that I have seen in my life.
“I also enjoy the view of the Margaret bridge and the Andrássy boulevard is among my favourite places, due to their impressive architecture. Recently I have discovered the Palota district behind the National Museum, which I think is also very beautiful.”
Loving details filled with life
When Bleekrode is working on a drawing he first makes a draft of the cityscape, which helps him in remembering the details. In the end it can take weeks or even months before he returns to work on these drafts – when he begins to fill them in with life and even the smallest details – replicating the atmosphere and the architecture of the given city in a way that can’t be confused with any other place.
There is not much chance for making corrections anyway, since the artist works in ink.
This is why it’s really important that the buildings and structures are put down in a technically correct way right from the beginning. It happens often that he spends a whole day working on twitching a tiny detail into a huge drawing, he tells us.
As for the future, he is planning a new series of drawings titled “Budapest by Night”. Furthermore, he would like to finish older ideas and concepts for which he has not had time yet.
One goal he would like to follow up on is capturing both aspects of the English Lake District in Great Britain – the landscape and the local architecture – in a single huge drawing.
To see more of Bleekrode’s artwork, visit his homepage www.stefanbleekrode.com
The article was written based on an interview the artist gave to the web portal ‘We Love Budapest’.