28 November 2001 – 12 January 2002
White Cube Duke Street
Belgium painter Koen van den Broek’s series of Border paintings are active large-scale works with broad areas of bright and crisp primary colours, applied in thin washes. The pictures veer between figuration and abstraction, and have largely evolved from the artist’s interest in desolate urban landscapes, in particular in the places he passed through on his travels around America. The artist has said that absence plays a bigger part in his work than presence, and although his canvases seem empty as all preliminary surface details are left out, their exaggerated diagonal compositions are dynamic, often with vanishing perspectives cutting through the rectangular plane of the canvas.
Van den Broek takes a great many photographs and often uses them as the starting point for his paintings. This was the approach that he used to initiate the Border series, which developed out of an attempt to resist an identifiable subject in itself, and focus instead on boundaries such as that between the wall of a house and a road, or that constituted by the edge of a pavement—the paintings intimate a journey somewhere but the destination is unresolved. These borders act as a divide on the canvas—re-presentation of their function in the landscapes. Van den Broek’s visually arresting works direct the viewer’s gaze away from the picture surface to a distant point beyond the field of deception, creating ‘a visual confusion regarding depth and perspective.’
Two more figurative pictures were exhibited in the adjoining space: one, a graphic image of the World Trade Center in New York, Twin Towers (1999); the other, Ghost Track (1999), a startling, almost hallucinatory images of a red pick-up truck on a rugged and arid roadside.