It’s not every day that a tattoo artist makes the transition from inking bodies to etching on canvas – it’s usually the other way round. But Belgian artist Jean-Luc Moerman has done just that. The tattoo artist draws soft, feminine, tribal-inspired tattoo-like etchings on everything from walls to people. ‘My drawings sprout up on any surfaces, from bicycles to taxidermy animals and people, and I rely on these surfaces as physical supports.’ In this exhibition, entitled ‘Epiphytes’, running at Gallery IVDE until Friday March 2, Moerman transforms Orientalist paintings by some of France’s most iconic artists of the 1800s, with impressive results. Here he explains his method.

Ingres, ‘La Petite Baigneuse, Interieur de Harem’, 1828
‘This is a bather, perhaps a slave, concubine or wife. In the painting, there is the illusion that she is natural, honest and approachable.’

‘I’m intrigued by our perceptions of tattoos. A tattoo covering a woman’s back in this way would be inappropriate and shocking in reality, but drawn onto a painting, when it is purely part of an illusion, it’s appealing and converts this naïve nude into an alluring and bold figure.’

‘I focused on the woman for the actual composition of the work. Focusing on her connects the foreground with the background, and creates an overall dialogue.’