Koen van den Broek

Koen van den Broek (b.1973, Belgium) lives and works in Antwerp. Studied at K.U. Leuven (1991-1993); the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp (1993-1995); the Academy of Visual Arts St. Joost, Breda (1995-1997); and Higher Institute of Fine Arts Flanders, Antwerp (1997-2000).  The stealthy magnetism of Koen van den Broek’s art is inseparable from the challenge of ultimately saying what it treats. To recall a distinction made by Barnett Newman, we should not confuse the subject of these works with their “object matter”. At first the latter seems clear: it is mostly the urban and rural aspects of America: Buildings; vehicles; roads; scenes of nature. That is, as one of his titles neatly puts it, American Images. Walker Evans, as it were, rethought for the twenty-first century. Like Evans, van den Broek—who himself uses a camera as a starting-point—prefers the downbeat, the casual and the reflective. Then again, as with Evans, the simplicity is deceptive. One clue is that when the locale changes—to Belgium, Andorra or Japan—we might never know it on the evidence of the paintings alone. It is as though van den Broek’s vision were a universal ether dissolving reality into a twice-told tale of signs: two-fold because first mediated by photography and, second, the brush. In fact, one implication is that the hoary modernist process of abstraction from observation has gone awry. Instead, these fields and angles are semaphores, as non-objective as Newman’s or Piet Mondrian’s, in search of a subject. Here schemata seek or feign to become site-specific places. Van den Broek’s craft proves crafty. Select solo exhibitions include Cut Away the Snoopy, Marlborough Contemporary, London (2014); Armco, Figge von Rosen Galerie, Cologne (2014); Zylon, Gallery Baton, Seoul (2013); Yaw, Galerie Greta Meert, Brussels (2013); Apex, Friedman Benda Gallery, New York (2013); Borders, Spinnerei, Leipzig (2013); Chicane, Marlborough Contemporary, London (2012); Koen van den Broek, From The East To The West And Back, Gallery Baton, Seoul (2012); Shadows, Museo Alto Garda – Arco, Palazzo dei Panni (2012); Koen van den Broek, Insomnia And The Greenhouse, Friedman Benda Gallery, New York (2011); and Koen van den Broek, Comin’ Down, Figge von Rosen Galerie, Berlin (2011). Select group exhibitions include Drawing Biennial 2015, Drawing Room, London (2015); De Vierkantigste Rechthoek, Belgische kunst in perspectief, KAdE, Amersfoort (2014); Muhka Extra Muros – Visite, C-Mine, Genk (2014); Museum to Scale 1/7, Kunsthal Rotterdam, Rotterdam (2014); Dialogen, C-Mine atelier Piet Stockmans, Genk (2014); Passions Sécrètes, Tripostal, Lille (2014); Bloed, Landcommanderij Alden Biesen, Bilzen (2014); Biënnale van de schilderkunst, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle (2014); Nothing but good, Park, Tilburg (2014); and RE: Painted, SMAK, Ghent (2014).

Last updated: 23.02.2017

Exhibitions