March 6, 2010 - S.M.A.K. - Koen van den Broek: Curbs & Cracks and S.M.A.K. going GAGA
March 6, 2010

Koen van den Broek: Curbs & Cracks and S.M.A.K. going GAGA

Koen van den Broek
Viaduct, 2002
Oil on canvas
280 x 420 cm
Hall collection, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Koen van den Broek:
Curbs & Cracks

Until 16 May 2010

Curated by Andrew Renton & Thibaut Verhoeven

Catalogue: compiled by Wouter Davidts and designed by Metahaven.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Citadelpark – 9000
Ghent – Belgium

Koen van den Broek: Curbs & Cracks

In January 2010 S.M.A.K. opened its doors for Curbs & Cracks, a retrospective exhibition of work by the Belgian artist Koen van den Broek (b. 1973, Bree). A focus on a young artist who, within the space of a very short time – 10 years – has consistently and confidently developed a body of work that is known and appreciated all over the world. The exhibition at the S.M.A.K. – compiled by Andrew Renton (Goldsmiths College, London) and Thibaut Verhoeven (S.M.A.K. Ghent) – brings together both new and existing work from the period 1999-2009, which is found in private and public collections all over the world. Koen van den Broek finds his inspiration in ‘being en route’ and his work is nurtured by dozens of road trips. Using his own snapshots the artist creates the basis for his paintings, and in a manner that is to the point and functional. Unlike a sketchbook, the photographic images serve only as a reminder and record interesting lines, structures and twists in the landscape he has observed. They are only formal recollections of what he has perceived and have little or no emotional value. The recordings appear to ‘reject’ being en route’. What interest the artist are the small segments of reality which most of us seem not to really notice. A kerb, a collection of shadows on the road suggesting the presence of a truck, a barren, snow-covered forest landscape, a simple house with a special emphasis on the trivial garage door, a motorway with an interesting yet stereotype curve in the landscape, and cracks in the asphalt which nobody notices. He sees the rear- or side views of objects, houses, and urban or natural landscapes. He focuses on his subject in such a way that it becomes trivial. What could be an impressive viaduct in a landscape becomes a dark, functional construction with a fragment of its natural context on the left and on the right. This ‘antisocial’ focus is linked to a painterly process in which van den Broek strips the images of all unnecessary detail so that the atmosphere is defined only by several basic lines. Thus leaving us with the ‘experience’ of space. The painterly execution flirts with abstraction. The choice of title negates this however, by taking the image back to reality. The unusual colours – ranging from cold white to every imaginable tone of grey combined with a carefully chosen blue, red, yellow or orange – confuses the spectator. Koen van den Broek is not at all interested in painting ‘realistic scenes’ but fervently seeks atmospheric ‘possibilities’. What he presents to the spectator are paintings, not landscapes, kerbs or buildings.

Curbs & Cracks shows a selection of existing work linked to a series of new paintings. He also brings in a large wall painting. The whole is developed around several sensitive issues and motifs, which are consistently, yet intermittently present in Koen van den Broek’s work. He creates ‘consistent’ spaces which balance between the conceptual contours of the painting and photographic depictions of reality.

The exhibition is developed around delineated clusters of works, choices that are substantiated purely formally and thematically as well as regarding content. Here we are struck by the repetition that is associated with these – both regarding the abovementioned and in the meantime recognisable – motifs, as well as the underlying method. This invites the spectator to look for inconsistencies. Indeed, the use of photography as a neutral link between reality and painterly creation does not always appear to be ‘necessary’. Recent creations react to existing work, act within the body of work as a catalyst that nurtures and strengthens the whole, or precisely in contrast to this, acts as a virus that infects and weakens all the carefully developed patterns. Courtesy White Cube London / Figge von Rosen Galerie Cologne / Greta Meert Gallery Brussels Catalogue Parallel to the exhibition a book on the work of Koen van den broek is published by Valiz (Amsterdam). The publication, entitled ‘Koen van den Broek: Crack,’ does not serve as a conventional catalogue but as an independent, discursive and visual project alongside the exhibition. It is the first substantial study of the work and practice of van den Broek, opening up different theoretical and conceptual perspectives.

A wide range of contributors has been invited to discuss particular topics within the work of van den Broek, based on their proper backgrounds and expertise as writers, academics and artists: the legacy of abstract painting (Andrew Renton, Goldsmiths, London), the collaboration with John Baldessari (John Welchman, University of California, San Diego), film as a source of inspiration (Merel van Tilburg, Université de Génève), the role and meaning of photography (Dirk Lauwaert, Brussels), exhibition strategies (Liesbeth Bik en Jos van der Pol, Rotterdam) and the representation of landscape and architecture (Wouter Davidts, VU University Amsterdam).

The book is compiled by Wouter Davidts and designed by Metahaven.

Figures & Facts:
Title: Koen van den Broek: Crack
Editor: Wouter Davidts
Publisher: Valiz, Amsterdam
Lay-out: Metahaven
Date: January 2010

Practical information.
The museum is open every day from 30.01.2009 untill 16.05.2010, from 10 am to 6 pm, closed on Mondays.

Press. Requests for Press Information or Images of the exhibited works may be made to Press Officer Gerrie Soetaert: – tel.: +32 (0) 475 47 98 69

Koen van den Broek -

Armory Show New York 2010

Solo Show Koen van den Broek, Figge van Rosen Galerie (Cologne) at the Armory Show New York 2010
March 4 – 7, 2010, Pier 94 / Booth 1054, 12 Avenue at 52-55 Streets, New York, NY

Figge Von Rosen Galerie

Koen van den Broek Shows at the Figge Von Rosen Galerie March 20 to April 30, 2010

GAGARIN the Artists in their Own Words
Until March 14th, the Museum of Contemporary Art S.M.A.K. in Ghent, Belgium, runs the comprehensive exhibition “GAGARIN the Artists in their Own Words – The first Decade“. On show are the complete artist’s writings published in GAGARIN and a selection of artworks by the same artists from the museum collection and special loans. GAGARIN the Artists in their Own Words is an independent publication, entirely dedicated to the publication of original writings of artists who are now working, anywhere in the world. To celebrate its unique concept and the 20 issues published since 2000, S.M.A.K. will now organize the special GAGARIN event with the alarming title “S.M.A.K. going GAGA” on Saturday, March 13th, the next-to-last day of the exhibition.

Saturday, March 13, 2010:

S.M.A.K. going GAGA
11:00 am – 12:30 pm:
GAGARIN: out of orbit into the museum
This presentation and ensuing panel discussion will examine originality when the pages of GAGARIN are removed from bound gatherings and displayed across gallery walls. The members of the panel are Simon Deakin (presenter), Olaf Nicolai, Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield and Asja Szafraniec.
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm:
GAGARIN: reading marathon
A new ground breaking “reading marathon” with artists who have contributed to GAGARIN: Boris Achour, Guillaume Bijl, Pierre Bismuth, Jota Castro, Adam Chodzko, Michel François, Joseph Grigely, Kati Heck, IngridMwangiRobertHutter, Suchan Kinoshita, Job Koelewijn, Gabriel Kuri, Bernd Lohaus, Mark Manders, Ria Pacquée, Philippe Van Snick, Berend Strik, Jennifer Tee, Danh Vo, Franziska & Lois Weinberger
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm:
Voodoo-Faust (Crash Opera) by ManfreDu Schu
The GAGARIN event will conclude with the breathtaking musical performance of his Voodoo-Faust (Crash Opera) by ManfreDu Schu & friends.

GAGARIN The Artists in their Own Words
Is published twice a year by

GAGA vzw | Wilfried HUET
Oosterweelsteenweg 3
2030 Antwerpen
T +32 3 2130013

S.M.A.K. going GAGA is co-produced by S.M.A.K., GAGA vzw and AIR Antwerpen

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