Gijs Vanhee, born in 1982 and based in Mechelen, Belgium, has a background in illustration and a passion for drawing and graffiti since childhood. Since 2016, he has focused on telling a coherent story throughout his body of work that spreads across various mediums, including paper, canvas, print, digital art, and mural paintings.
Vanhee's narrative drawings often feature humans with bird heads, which he calls his "freebirds." These characters represent the idea of humans being free in their heads through imagination and reflect Vanhee's search for freedom and balance between nature and society. His works invite viewers to take the time to stop and look around, search for stories or questions about humans, and reflect on how we've drifted away from who we are.
Vanhee's drawings have a recognizable style, often in black and white or with limited use of color. He uses elements and textures present in murals to create his work, and he often draws inspiration from his travels and local stories to fill in the details.
The artist draws inspiration from nature, travel, surf and skate culture, graphic novelists, and other artists. Vanhee strives to keep his work honest by maintaining a sketchy feeling. His freebirds act as protagonists, taking viewers on a journey through his story.
Vanhee's oeuvre is not bound by murals but continues through various mediums, allowing his freebirds to come to life in a story that forms a coherent whole. He creates art that is visible and enjoyable to a broad audience.