‘Koen van den Broek: Out of Place’ by John C. Welchman

In Out of Place, noted LA-based art historian John C. Welchman offers a tour-de-force discussion of the first 25 years of Koen van den Broek’s work. The book is partly chronological, partly attentive to the genres, styles, media and concepts around which the artist has innovated, from painting to public space.

Welchman unpacks a wide spectrum of references and allusions, to Mondrian, Malevich, Matisse, Rothko and many other modernist artists; to postwar photographies; to the art cinemas of the 1960s and ’70s; and to the history of freeways, interstates and the evolution of the singular urban fabrics of the United States. He offers exciting new accounts of the defining orientation of the first decade of van den Broek’s painting as it entered into pathbreaking pictorial dialogues with borders, shadows and cracks. The second part of the monograph takes up with a frankly surprising range of ideas and issues connected to figures, identities, landscape, ecology, appropriation, opera, and institutions … and to the striking material appurtenances of Formula 1 racing.

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ABOUT Koen van den Broek

Koen van den Broek was born in 1973 in Bree, Belgium
He lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium

Born in 1973 in the Belgian town of Bree, Koen van den Broek first studied architecture and subsequently painting, initially at the Royal Academy of Antwerp and then at the Academy of Visual Arts of Breda. In his opinion, despite his painting studies, he has always remained an architect at heart. Ever since his student days, van den Broek has travelled constantly: around Europe, to the USA, Mexico and even to Korea. 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.

Early in his career, Koen van den Broek developed a fascination for desolate landscapes in which man rarely appears, but always makes his presence felt. He depicts the traces left behind on roads, streets and houses that have been abandoned. The artist’s perception of roads and borders in barren lands has provided the painter with impulses that enable him to make his specific statement on landscape painting. Van den Broek operates by turning his face downwards and zooming in on the irregularities of the pavement, on curb stones and shadows. It is this very search for a subject of representation that led the artist on a journey closer to abstraction.

Works by Koen van den Broek are part of major public collections, including the LACMA, Los Angeles; SMAK, Ghent; M HKA, Antwerp; Busan Museum of Art, Busan; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle. His work has been presented at the Venice Biennial (2015 & 2017); White Cube, London; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Antwerp and Brussels; Seoul Arts Centre, Seoul; Kunsthalle, Mannheim; Royal Academy, London; MAS, Antwerp, and Kunsthal, Rotterdam; His work can also be found in numerous public spaces in Belgium, such as the Hofkamer, Antwerp; ‘t Zilte, MAS, Antwerp; AZSM Hospital, Mechelen, and the Provinciehuis, Hasselt.

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