“It looked like you but it wasn’t. “ (Lost Highway, 1997, David Lynch)
“This is Paris? Looks just like Texas to me.” (Paris Texas, 1984, Wim Wenders)
“For the first time he wished he were far away, somewhere with language or streets. When he woke up he was on fire. Then he ran, he never looked back at the fire. He ran until every sign of man had disappeared. “ (Paris Texas, 1984, Wim Wenders)
New York, NY – Albertz Benda is pleased to present The Light We Live In, an exhibition of paintings by acclaimed Belgian artist Koen van den Broek. This exhibition marks van den Broek’s third solo show in New York illustrating the artist’s evolution from the objective to the intensely personal. Suggesting the unraveling of a suspense film, the exhibition toggles between seemingly rational perspectives and entirely subjective points-of-view.
Inspired by his recent scenographic commissions for the Belgium Opera House and Ballet of Flanders, van den Broek’s latest works visualize narrative, intrigue, and emotion on canvas. Figures appear, locations are suggested, and stories take shape. There is an overall sense of movement, transition, and revelation that stems from the presence of actual characters.
The Light We Live In opens with a group of works that depict van den Broek’s signature settings of abstracted urban landscapes, roads, and shadows with heightened emphasis on the sensibility of the mundane. In these paintings, the artist has focused his full attention on the structure and composition of the pictorial plane to magnify and elevate the everyday.
In the next group of new works, a quantifiable human presence emerges as the artist fills in characters and plot on the anonymous platforms he has been painting for most of his career. In paintings Critic, Sunset, and Farewell, dislocation is now redefined through the presence of the human figure rather than the absence seen in previous years. Migrations, escapism, and the domineering American landscape are re-evaluated with humanity in mind, with all its inherent complexity and flaws.
These investigative and overtly dramatic works are set alongside a group of van den Broek’s hallmark paintings of curbs, shadows, highways, and endless horizons which are heavily influenced by neo-noir, horror, photography, and film. The artist’s staunch anonymity and distance from his subject is present in the work Motorcycle as a counterpoint to the more personal narratives.
Taken together, the works that comprise The Light We Live In show van den Broek’s range as a painter and his ability to translate his fascination with the psychological world into a visual one.
About the Artist
Koen van den Broek (b.1973) lives and works in Belgium. He has a Bachelor in Architectural Engineering, and studied at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, the Academy of Visual Arts St. Joost, Breda, and the Higher Institute of Fine Arts Flanders, Antwerp. He is currently an instructor at the MAD faculty in Hasselt, Belgium.
The artist’s work is in significant private collections and the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Astrup Fearnley Museet fur Modern Kunst, Oslo, Norway; Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium; The Leeum Collection at the Samsung Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea; S.M.A.K, Ghent, Belgium, and MUHKA, Antwerp, Belgium. Van den Broek has been in many museum exhibitions in Belgium including in Antwerp, at the MAS and at the MHKA. In 2008, Van den Broek collaborated with John Baldessari on “This an Example of That,” an exhibition at the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht. In 2009, he was the subject of an extensive retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK) at which point, “Crack,” a monograph on his work, was published. He has recently been commissioned to work on public projects for a hospital in Mechelen, and the entire next season of the Flemish Opera house in Antwerp.