We had the pleasure of speaking with Koen van den Broek about his current retrospective exhibition at Galerie Ron Mandos titled The Beginning, and how he feels about the current state of the world.  

Talk to us about your background

After a classical education (mathematics and Latin), I decided to study civil engineering and architecture at the university. However, after two years I decided toquit the course and make a big change and switch to the Academy of Visual Arts in Antwerp – civil engineering and architecture lacked focus in terms of design an creativity, something I was looking for. In short: I studied art over a period of seven years. In those seven years I have attended the Academy in Antwerp, Academy St Joost in Breda and the Higher Institute of Flanders (HISK). I graduated in 2000, andin that same year I had my first solo exhibition in the Kunsthalle Z33 in Hasselt and a solo with Jay Jopling at White Cube London.

How do you think Covid-19 will affect the art industry on the short and long-term? And what impact will this crisis have on how we perceive art?

Covid-19 is a nightmare for millions of people around the world, but in my opinion it is also a blessing in disguise. I feel that the lockdown has been able to temporarilyhalt the ratrace of the art world. We are in a moment of geographical and social limits, which paradoxically gives us more freedom of the mind.

How do you spend your Quarantine time and are you still able to create while being quarantined?

In contrary from what I hear from other colleagues artists,I have been very busyduring this quarantine. This period allows me to spend a lot of time in my studio where I can focus on my paintings without interruption. Additionally, next to all the preparations that went in to my current show at Galerie Ron Mandos, I am also having a lot of virtual meetings about future projects. This time also gives me the opportunity to spend more quality time with my family, reading, and walking the dog.

What is your first memory related to art? And when did you start painting?

When I was around 14 years old my uncle used to take me to a beautiful wooden cabin located in the middle of nature. My uncle, being an amateur painter, was the one who taught me how to work with oil paint and how to paint landscapes. 

What is the coolest new thing you have learnt since being quarantined?

I enjoy driving my old Ford Mustang together with my son on roads that are normally super busy but now empty due to everyone staying at home. I learned that during Covid-19 life looks a lot like my paintings. It is a lot more agreeable. Next to that, however it’s not something I “learned”, I can’t stop watching Larry David’s ‘Curb your enthusiasm ‘.  I have to admit – I am fond of curbs.

What is the story behind both silk screenprints: Hamptons & Casting Balance?

Both works address very different topics and angles of my work. Hamptons is a work based on a picture that I took west of Long Island, NY. It’s very typical for my work in terms of shadows, streets corners, and referring to details of a movies. Then, when we look at Casting Balance we see a work that was based off a pictureI took at home in my own street, which is the first time I did a painting based on an image close to home. The fragility of Casting Balance is very pure and resembles the end of the life of a small plant before the winter comes. This gives a rich amount of colors balancing in the wind as if the plant is asking to get a role in a movie,casting to be the star in my painting.

The Beginning by Koen van den Broek will be on view until Saturday 13 May at Galerie Ron Mandos in Amsterdam. To visit the exhibition a viewing appointment must be booked via +31 20 320 7036.

Timotej Letonja