Friedman Benda will present Belgian artist Koen van den Broek’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, titled Apex, from April 25–May 24, 2013. In this body of large-scale work van den Broek uses the history of his own paintings as a reference point and conceives fresh commentaries on abstraction. He formally resolves his signature tension between the photographic and the painterly, transcending from referential and cerebral to the experiential and spiritual.
A trained architect, van den Broek uses light, shape, and repetition to build generic structures, be it natural or man-made, through layering and the application of vibrant colors. Shadows cast by anonymous buildings, cracks in sun baked pavement, and lonely overpass bridges suggest human presence and a narrative long past. His preference for the casual and reflective aligns with Edward Hopper and Wayne Thiebaud. Known for employing photographic images taken on road trips as the basis for his work – from Belgium to Tokyo, Chicago, Los Angeles and beyond ––with this new series van den Broek abandons this alibi, and with it, the inherent distancing and melancholic effects. Instead, he samples the 20th and 21st century, as seen through his own eyes, invoking Abstract Expressionism in the vein of Clyfford Still infused with the self-conscious and selfreferential characteristics of American Conceptualism.
The flattened and skewed perspective in Torque, emphasize a repetition of forms familiar in van den Broek’s work––pavement cracks, street division lines, and the shadows of electrical posts––seemingly alluding to a coded message. Yet the work is gestural, active, and of the moment. A reverberation of presence is no longer tangible in Apex and the ambiguous mood of his earlier work shifts to optimism.