Almost concurrently with Curbs & Cracks, a retrospective exhibition of paintings by Koen van den Broek (°1973, Bree) at S.M.A.K, the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent , the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp
(KMSKA) is displaying in its Print Room a unique selection of some twenty works on paper by the same artist. Never before has van den Broeks oeuvre on paper been shown to the public. Moreover, this is very recent work, created in 2009 during stays in Los Angeles and the South of France.
Not only were these recent paintings created abroad, they are, in themselves, reminiscent of travelling and road movies. Van den Broek paints desolate roads out in the American desert and on the French Riviera, he focuses on the surface of the cracked asphalt, or zooms in on the rear light or the bumper of a car ahead. He alternates atmospherically illuminated mountain landscapes with snapshots of isolated holiday homes in a forest, or a peek through roadside foliage at a swimming pool below. The subject matter is anonymous, almost trivial, and it tends to convey a sense of transience.
A double tryout
Last year during his time in Los Angeles , Koen van den Broek experienced a bout of painters block, but the ensuing period of experimentation led him to explore entirely new avenues, technically and compositionally.
For the first time in over a decade, the artist painted on paper, not as studies for other work, but as creations in their own right..
Working on American-sized paper, he would combine different compositions and mutually enhancing images on a single sheet. Other works consist in a single composition, often placed slightly off-centre to create a certain tension.
The acrylic paint is applied vigorously with a broad brush, yet with a subtle touch and in thin layers.
With these works on paper, the young artist shows himself to be a master colourist. Corot and Matisse are van den Broeks great examples. Black and white are associated with greyish hues, or heightened with yellow lemon, bright orange and azure.
The unusual framing, the vague contour lines and the focus on trivial details suppress the paintings reference to reality, so that only the essence remains: a refreshing and intriguing composition of line and colour.
This selection of around twenty works on paper nicely complements the Curbs & Cracks exhibition that runs from 30 January at S.M.A.K. in Ghent . Print Room of the