Over the past twenty years, Van den Broek has created an impressive corpus of refined, almost abstract paintings. His canvases zoom in on curbs, cracks in a road, the shadow of a vehicle. Things that we pass by every day but no longer really see. A starting point for his work are the snapshots he takes, on the road, especially in the US. His works are blank: without a location, without action, without people. The artist once said, “Even if I paint something figurative, or a person, it’s all about the composition. Light and shadow, that’s all.”
Drifting on Crack, 2013 | Oil on canvas | 100 x 150 cm
Koen van den Broek € 35.000,- (Excl. tax)
The many streets in Van den Broek’s work evoke associations with the road movie genre. David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas are a huge source of inspiration. Usually the roads in his paintings are empty. Van den Broek draws our attention towards the traces that people leave behind. In Drifting on Crack, we see the skid marks of a car that drifted through the American desert.
The Crack paintings refer to the road movie genre, but also to the work of Piet Mondriaan. Mondriaan’s Boogie Woogie paintings seem abstract, but relate to Manhattan’s street grid plan. Van den Broek’s Disorder appears abstract, but is in fact a detail shot of the road. He zooms in on a playful system of crack lines that perpetuates on the endless interstate in the American desert. The play between abstraction and figuration is very important in the Crack series.
Disorder, 2020 | Oil on Canvas | 90 x 135 cm
Koen van den Broek € 31.500,- (Excl. tax)
Frydlant #3, 2003 | Oil on canvas | 180 x 120 cm
Koen van den Broek € 42.000,- (Excl. tax)
Traveling around the world, Van den Broek has his analogue camera always close to hand. In his search for a subject of representation, 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 cracks, curbs and shadows found on sidewalks and roads.
Most of the shadows in the painting by Koen van den Broek are blue, showing the importance of analog photography. In old movies and tv-series that were made using analogous film, the shadow colors range from black to blue.
The White Borders #1, 2005 | Oil on canvas | 240 x 160 cm
Koen van den Broek € 56.000,- (Excl. tax)
In the Curb or Border paintings, Van den Broek is looking down at the street. The artist once said, “The first time my work was described as looking down was actually in reference to the painting Red Border (1999), based on a photograph I took in San Francisco. I considered it a landscape painting, focusing on the end of a road, with a lawn at the side and a red curb going up. […] When they saw it, my artist friends reacted as if I was starting to evolve towards abstraction. As we know, when there’s a horizon, we call it ‘landscape’. But in this case, we could call it ‘composition’ – as we learned from Barnett Newman. The red ‘zip’ rendered in perspective made me reflect and prompted the development of my subsequent border paintings.”
Bike Lane S.M. is one of Koen van den Broek’s most recent works. The work is based on a picture he took in Los Angeles. In the past decades, the city has transformed into a more climate friendly city with plenty of fresh green bike lanes. This work is a symbol for the times we live in. The abandoned bike lane reminds us of empty streets during the current crisis.
Bike Lane S.M., 2019 | Oil on canvas | 180 x 135 cm
Koen van den Broek € 41.000,- (Excl. tax)
For years Van den Broek worked on cracks, curbs and shadows, his personal statement on the traditional genre of landscape painting. In constant search of renewing the medium, he found inspiration in the paintings of Henri Matisse, but also in the conceptual art of John Baldessari, a good friend of the artist. In 2008 they decided to collaborate on a project that combined photographs by Baldessari with painted interventions by Van den Broek.
Stretched, 2014 | Oil on canvas | 210 x 140 cm
Koen van den Broek € 49.000,- (Excl. tax)
Something entirely new was Van den Broek’s public intervention on the facade of the hospital Sint-Maarten in Mechelen, Belgium. While revisiting his older work, the artist sampled elements from his crack, curb and shadow paintings, and translated these onto the glass facade of the building. These abstracted samples also served as a source for a series of abstract paintings, like Stretched.
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.
Cut Away #7, 2015 | Oil on canvas | 120 x 150 cm
Koen van den Broek € 37.500,- (Excl. tax)
On the occasion of 450 years Pieter Bruegel, Van den Broek created his very first installation, an artwork of 45 meters long under a historic bridge in Belgium. Similar to the ‘hospital’ project, he sampled elements from one of his earliest paintings and reproduced it in real life. Taking photos of the finished project, Van den Broek painted two new canvases, titled No Sports and Carrara (Bruegel).
FRAGILITY AND HOPE
Casting Balance is one of the first local landscape paintings by Van den Broek. He found the fragile twig with autumn leaves close to his home. The work symbolizes a more difficult time for the artist and is about finding a new balance. Together with the rainbow painting, Hope #2, Koen van den Broek brings hope and light to the lives of all of us in these difficult times.
Hope #2, 2012 | Oil on canvas | 210 x 140 cm
Koen van den Broek € 49.000,- (Excl. tax)