Rated as one of the finest art galleries in Amsterdam, Gerhard Hofland, a big and bright space in the outskirts of the Jordaan with a slightly warehouse feeling to it, has welcomed a series of paintings by Hans Broek, a New York based Dutch artist who also had his work shown at the Rijksmuseum last year and in countries like Russia and South Korea.
Hans challenges our imagination with the exhibition “Storyboard and Blow”, which will be on display until April 12th. His dark palette and strong chiaroscuro style bring to life beautiful portraits as well as mysterious and thought-provoking still life and landscapes.
Although art has been Han’s primary occupation since the early nineties, when he left the Netherlands to live in America, where “you are free to paint whatever you want”, he says, film has always been his second passion. So what happens when a skillful artist, capable of drawing precise expressions and transmitting emotion from a canvas turns out to love film as well? He combines the two. And the exhibition on display at this intimate gallery, which composes exceptionally fresh paintings (Hans finished working on some of them just a week before the exhibition opened), is a concrete example of how effective this mix can be.
His technique consists in painting film stills. “Blow”, for instance, portrays film stills of European films directed by four talented European directors, including Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Cocteau. All paintings illustrate characters that have just experienced a shock. But why is this feeling compelling for him? “Because in this moment, time seems to be suspended.The world is fundamentally different from the time before”, he says.
Just as you enter the gallery, your attention is automatically drawn to two captivating pictures: “The Princess” and “Marcella Mariani ”. Their enigmatic and expressive eyes leave you wondering the type of shock they might have experienced. Most of the work, composed of 14 paintings in total, “can be on the somber side”, as Hans notes, but they also unquestionably attach to the tall blank walls “a sense of wonder and beauty”. Getting to know Jordaan’s galleries is a must for both locals and visitors but having the chance to see the work of this contemporary Dutch artist makes the experience even more delightful.