Hans op de Beeck
The Pond, Last Winter, 2022
black-and-white watercolour on arches paper
130 x 290 cm
[from the pressrelease]
In 2009, Op de Beeck exhibited at Rome’s historic Galleria Borghese. In dialogue with the old masters from the collection, he developed six expansive monochrome watercolours. Today, these paintings exist as part of the MAXXI (Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome) permanent collection. Since then, Op de Beeck has worked prolifically on continuing this series – a steadily growing oeuvre of watercolours. Though fully matured and autonomous works in their own right, they have evolved into a kind of picture-book, an ever-expanding universe of images.
Op de Beeck’s watercolours envisage fictional places – within these spaces dark and fairy-like characters emerge in nocturnal settings. These enigmas elicit a sense of alienation and melancholy, whilst radiating peace and tranquility in equal measure. The figures and places offer seeds for the audience to create a story.
Each of the works is painted at night, alone in a silent studio. Here, without interruption the creative process becomes one of being intoxicated with timelessness. Just as in a dream, the process is one of accessing the subconscious – a ritual of surrender to the unknown. Op de Beeck wrestles with the growing pains and obstacles of the human condition. Here, the futility of man in the face of the sublime and the natural world becomes his point of departure (…)
Op de Beeck often balances the gentle and idyllic with the disturbing and dark. Notions of mystery, the unexplainable and the fundamental loneliness of our existence recur regularly. Alongside, we see other subtly recurring motifs – still lives of banal objects as memento mori; or the micro-poetry of raindrops on water and soap bubbles floating languidly by.