ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
The Beginning marks the first official solo exhibition of Koen van den Broek at Galerie Ron Mandos. For this large retrospective, the renowned Belgian artist made a selection of his finest, most exemplary works from the last twenty years.
For The Beginning, Koen van den Broek revisited his older work and discovered elements that he sampled and translated onto new canvases. Presenting these new paintings alongside older works, he introduces us to the idiosyncratic works of curbs, cracks and shadows, contrasted with less familiar works of flowers and rainbows from his personal collection. Van den Broek tells us about artists like Bruegel, Matisse, and Mondriaan that radically changed his view on the landscape. The Beginning shows the artist’s constant search for renewing the medium of landscape painting.
Ever since his student days, van den Broek has travelled constantly: around Europe, to the USA, Mexico and even to Japan. Always with his camera close to hand. He takes photos, a lot of photos, which all depict the same subject: the architectural interventions of man on the landscape. Van den Broek does not look for motifs that make landscapes specific and recognizable, but holds on firmly to forms of subject matter that one can find everywhere. He turns his gaze downwards and zooms in on curbstones and shadows found on sidewalks and roads. It is this very search for a subject of representation that led the artist on a journey closer to abstraction.
In his search for abstraction, Van den Broek is guided by many important art historical figures. For example, John Chamberlain’s expression ‘cut away the snoopy’ laid the foundation for a series of paintings in which Van den Broek ‘cut away’ all recognizable elements from his compositions for the sake of pure form. The Crack paintings, on the other hand, refer to Mondriaan’s Boogie Woogie paintings, which seem abstract, but in fact relate to real-world examples of New York. For a long time, Van den Broek worked together with the famous John Baldessari, whose photos he transformed into colorful and playful compositions. In a more recent project, Van den Broek gets inspired by Pieter Bruegel, performing interventions in the public space and using these as a source for new landscape paintings.