House facades, street canyons, vehicles and pavements. Since the early 2000s, the Belgian artist Koen van den Broek has made the urban present the subject of his paintings. With ease, he moves along the borders of abstraction and depiction of reality.
Koen van den Broek, Wanderlust, 2021, Oil on canvas, photo: Philipp von Rosen Galerie
His works show very unique excerpts from initially inconspicuous, deserted places: the addition of a few details turns abstract surfaces into magnificent streets; kerbstones and shadows become compositional pictorial means and generous monochrome use of colour direct the gaze of the viewers. Despite the absence of people, their presence can be felt in the works: circus tents, motorways, bridges, sewers, pipes, fragments of houses or cars. As if of their own accord, his paintings zoom in on these motifs, arrange and compose colours, light and shadows and lead the painter again and again to abstraction. Playfulness, diversity and duality - rigid demarcation versus wild brushstrokes, depth versus surface - are characteristic of his paintings.
The exhibition in the Kunstmuseum Magdeburg shows a cross-section of Koen van den Broek's paintings from 1998 to the present. For the first time, the painter's oeuvre can be seen in its entirety in a German art museum.
Koen van den Broek (*1973 in Bree, Belgium) first studied architecture and then painting at the Royal Academy of Antwerp and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Breda. His works are presented in solo and group exhibitions in Europe, North America and Asia and can be found in collections of among others the Astrup Fearnley Museet (Oslo), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SMAK (Gent) and Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp.