Jeroen Krabbé exhibition, Zwolle
May 9, 2008
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.