- Keizersgracht 516
It started with Paul Cézanne who, in the early twentieth century, began depicting the reality of Mont Sainte-Victoire using geometrical forms. A few years later, in Munich, Wassily Kandinsky let go of that natural reality and produced the first painting without a recognizable image. Kazimir Malevich followed suit in Moscow, and Piet Mondrian in Paris: abstract art had been born, although figuration would, of course, never disappear.
However close they leaned to abstraction, Braque and Picasso never completely let go of figuration. To this day, the two approaches continue to be ‘fought over’, sometimes fiercely, usually harmoniously. It is up to the artist how to give shape to the ultimate freedom of the imagination.
In one week, we visited the studios of three painters from the same generation who know one another well: Jurriaan Molenaar, Koen Vermeule, and Ronald Zuurmond. These forced us to contemplate the similarities and differences that exist within the same discipline. All three artists use figuration as a form of expression and a result of the imagination, but they work in different ways.
Architecture, stone and concrete are the beloved themes of Jurriaan Molenaar, with occasionally a person inside or outside. These are imagined according to the laws of geometry, with vanishing points, based on precise mathematical calculations, and using simple colors verging on monochrome. They are methodical, and nature does not put in an appearance: these pictures are Apollonian, not Dionysian.
Koen Vermeule, on the other hand, looks very differently at his environment. He is a keen observer, and often sees people in introverted poses. His landscapes are usually fleeting observations, capturing the stillness of a moment in his own special way. Vermeule alternates clean geometric lines in landscape and sky with a more poetic and lively foreground, using the ‘skin’ of the canvas to strongly emphasize this effect.
Ronald Zuurmond is an academic thinker, and this often shows him the way to the imagination. Rarely does the image come about quickly; usually it is the result of much deliberation. Zuurmond lets his hands do the work, using images from his memory or recovered “snapshots”, sometimes from a dream world, on a quasi-monochrome background. Asked why so many of his recent canvases have pink or white backgrounds, his answer was refreshingly honest: “I just had a lot of that paint left.”
The reality of the artist, whether abstracted, depicted from nature or emerging from a dream world; is what art is ultimately all about.
BorzoGallery is moving
On 20 June, Borzo will close its doors at Keizersgracht 516 to open again after the summer, a little further on at Keizersgracht 321.
You may visit the gallery at #516 until Sunday 20 June for the exhibition ‘Reality Pictured’, with paintings by Jurriaan Molenaar, Koen Vermeule and Ronald Zuurmond.
Jurriaan Molenaar (NL, 1968), Koen Vermeule (NL, 1965), Ronald Zuurmond (NL, 1964)