16 Dec, 2022 - 14 Jan, 2023
What the eyes of artist Bart Kok catch on his daily strolls is directly reflected in his bright and whimsical paintings. These paintings flirt with pointillism, expressionism, and art brut, but foremost explore the digital translation of the landscape through colors and contrasts that closely relate to pop art and graffiti culture. Simultaneous with his recent move from the vibrant city of Antwerp in Belgium to a deserted little rural Dutch town called Lochem, the landscape shifted from backdrop to main subject in his works.
Previously, the city of Antwerp and its art (historical) scene, museums and people inspired Kok to focus on general existing romantic ideas about “the artist” and formed an exploration into artist clichés such as: the tragic, the heroic, the lonely soul, the drunk and the philosopher. The absence of such a scene in his new environment forced to the artist to solely concentrate on what his eyes were left with: primarily nature. A seemingly simple and obvious subject, evidently deeply rooted in art history, forced the artist to focus more on the act of painting itself, and be freer and more open to what the Dutch landscape had to offer.
“What struck me about the Dutch landscape is that it’s in a way very restricted. Because of our dense population and lack of mountains, we don’t have large vistas. We are always limited in our experiences of nature. We don’t usually feel overwhelmed or small, like we would be when experiencing a wide-open view on top of a mountain.
The only way to imagine yourself in nature is in the forest. Because of the density of the trees, your field of vision is limited. And because of this, you can experience a sense of mysticality. You never know what could lie behind the next corner, or what could be lurking behind a tree. For me, this stimulates my imagination, and that is something I also find within the paintings I create.”
Kok photographs these mystical encounters during his walks and collects them into an archive that functions as a guideline during the painting process. By using high contrasts and oversaturated colors and evenly dividing them on the canvas, the artist wants to create the illusion of light coming through the back of the canvas, mimicking the way a computer screen works.
Ornis Althuis is co-owner of Althuis Hofland Fine Arts with Jeanine Hofland, located within the historical center of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. With a strong focus on the medium of painting within the realms of intuitive and autobiographical narrative, Althuis Hofland works with artists from different backgrounds that span different generations.