Before discovering Ben Heine, my favorite thing from Belgium was the waffles. However, after happening upon these photos by the Ivory Coast native/Belgian transplant, it seems the delicious breakfast treats might have competition. I can't stop looking at these unique, entrancing photo/sketch combinations. Their appeal seems to stem in part from the unanswered questions they provoke: namely, why? What made the artist, Belgian "painter, illustrator, portraitist, caricaturist and photographer" Ben Heine, come up with these, and why did he pick the pictures he did? And why such a surreal take in some, and realistic portrayals in others?
Even more puzzling, why include fire by actually putting some of the drawings to flames? The effect is certainly powerful, but how could he bear to destroy such beautiful work? Perhaps these drawings didn't take the time I imagine them to, as my lack of artistic talent means doing just one of these would take me weeks and never reach the level of these, but regardless, it just doesn't seem worth it to literally burn your own work -- maybe I have too strong an attachment to my own creations, but I can hardly stand to delete a sentence I like from an essay, let alone set fire to such a carefully executed drawing.
Regardless of his reasoning, the fire certainly adds to the mood of the pieces. Although all of these are beautiful, I can't help but feel there's an almost melancholy, cynical tinge to some of them, such as the panda holding a "Lonely" sign at a table by itself. On the other hand, some are distinctly whimsical and hopeful, such as the boy above or the Mickey Mouse "If you can dream it...you can do it" drawing. Still others are just extremely amusing; but I'll leave it to you to peruse the collection on your own.
They're all extremely original, but I was pleasantly surprised by the artists' inclusion of the hand itself in this one --- just when I thought I had the art form figured out, he threw a new curve.
The carefree, summery feeling of this one puts it in the contenders for my favorite. You can see more of his work at his professional website.