‘You should not want to interpret my paintings too much. The simplicity and the monumental character of my compositions are, to me, their most vital quality.’
Arnout van Albada (Groningen, 1968) is the youngest of all the painters whom exhibit at Gallery Mokum. He joined the gallery in 1997. Van Albada attained his education at the Minerva Academy in Groningen where he positioned himself amongst the still-life painters who execute their vision in a fine-tuned realistic manner along with great technical proficiency.
Van Albada paints simplistic compositions where one or several objects are depicted in. The objects vary between a porcelain bowl, a shell, a plate filled with raspberries or a couple of fish tied together with a string. The view is from aside, more or less on eye level or from above, all from an aerial perspective. What is striking is the effortless way he uses his objects to construct a composition in his paintings. Besides the amount of objects, he also limits himself in the use of colour. The background is smooth with a neutral colour.
Sometimes the colour brown predominates, other times yellow and then grey. The catching colours, like the red of the raspberries, bring a livelihood to the image. The dimmed light faintly strokes over the composition, casting a soft shadow that breaks the smooth backdrop. Due to the stern and simple construction and the modest use of colours, the image tends to imply certain strictness however, by using natural objects it does not acquire this fully. The casual round shapes of the raspberries or the elegantly dented shell on a chest create mobility and hold on to the attention of the viewer. This way he creates a feeling of timelessness and temporality.
Next to still-lives Van Albada occasionally paints portraits. Dogs are also a reoccurring theme, mainly depicted in a silenced setting: sleeping or sitting on a chair, etc. However, in these works the emotion of stillness is volatile. We know that the dog will awake at one point or will not be in the chair forever. The temporality of the moment is explicitly present.
Although he feels that each subject that has an impact on him should be painted, he chooses mainly for still-lives. In still-lives he can dedicate himself to making a clear monumental composition in which the gentle strokes of light and subtle colour contrasts can form a balanced whole. The inspiration for his subjects comes to him from his environment; what he sees around him that intrigue or affect him. The subjects are often small, delicate or perishable. It is exactly these characteristics he manages to capture in the thin layers of oil paint. On a coloured subsurface he makes a monochrome underpainting from egg tempera. Afterwards he builds up the image with half transparent layers of oil paint. At first glance Van Albada’s paintings come across very finely painted, but after a closer look it comes to attention that not all details are fully developed. The suggestion it makes firstly is on presence. Colour and atmosphere are just as important to the painter as the preciseness of the details.