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Jeroen Krabbé exhibition, Zwolle

May 9, 2008

Today I travelled ‘by train to see a retrospective of one of my favorite artist’s work.

Yes,  Jeroen Krabbé is the actor, but I saw his work on a postcard 15 years ago and fell in love with it immediately. His color sense spoke directly to me, as did the play between decorative and figurative in his compositions. They communicate a pure joy in the act of painting. 

I had never seen any of his originals before, and they were a revelation. There are areas of exposed canvas, thickly applied paint, watercolor-like glazes, beautiful rhythmic brushstrokes and scratches all on the same canvas. There are truly transcendent moments of certain color combinations that are obviously products of flow during the creation process. You could never premeditate those slivers of magic that appear, they are pure gifts.

My favorite pieces of his are where the color speaks first- warm washes of yellows and salmons for his French and Spanish landscapes. And cool greens and blues for Malaysia. In the DVD I bought of him giving a tour of the show (over 200 paintings), he mentions that form makes him nervous. He feels that the way he uses color actually builds form.  I often feel the same cramped feeling when having  to ‘get something right’ gets in the way of the pleasure in painting.

In Krabbés work I see how he claims the freedom to do what he wants to do; and striving for a purely representational painting would be a real damper on his boundless joy in putting down the colors and strokes- his colors and strokes. And obviously his current level of mastery is the result of consistent hard work over several decades!!

Spending all that time with these paintings today has opened up something for me in relation to my own art though I don’t quite know what it is yet.

Krabbé mentioned how artists get inspired by ‘great’ artists and ‘use’ certain techniques of theirs- strokes, color combinations, etc.; he emphasized that this is not stealing. I agree, I see it as one more stepping stone to finding your own way of painting and seeing. Just as Gaugain, Cézanne, Klee, Matisse and other masters have been models for Krabbé,  his paintings now are models for a new generation of artists.

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8 Responses to “Jeroen Krabbé exhibition, Zwolle”

  1. Melissa Says:

    Lovely, thoughtful site. Thank you. I’ll be back.

  2. Linda Miller Says:

    Your website is a happy discovery for me.
    I found Jeroen Krabbe’s beautiful art in London, almost 20 years ago.
    I’ve thought about it ever since.
    As an artist for some time dormant…now returning, gratefully, to paint again, I thought of Jeroen Krabbe’s work and looking for his images online found your wonderful site. Thank you, your retelling of what he had to say about painting inspires and reassures me. I appreciate your insight – that he claims the freedom to do what he wants to do. Let freedom ring!!!

    Linda (from Woodstock, NY)

  3. szoutewelle Says:

    thanks Linda. I’m glad you are getting back to painting again. Nice that you also appreciate Krabbé’s work. It was amazing to be in the presence of 200 hundred of his works. I am still very much moved by that experience, and it did lead me to a breakthough in my own work.
    There is so much joy in what he does. I hope you find the same.
    As you re enter your painting mode, you might enjoy receiving Robert Genn’s ‘Painter’s Keys’-twice weekly musings on painting, they are inspiring and a wonderful support, as is the large community of painters gathered around him.
    Sarah (originally from Pgh , PA)

  4. JOANNA PESKEY Says:

    Thank you for your words and it is good to hear that someone else felt the same as I. It was Jeroen’s use of colour that inspired me to pick up a brush. I never tire of seeing his work and I was wondering where I might get a copy of the dvd?
    Thanks Joanna.

  5. JOANNA PESKEY Says:

    Thanks for the info. I have tried both but came up with nothing. I guess the dvd was limited to the event. What a pity. Anyway, thanks again for your input.


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