‘The avoiding of details, the unrevealing of the true story, to me is a way to make a painting interesting’
Koos van Keulen (Amsterdam, 1940) studied at the Rijksnormaalschool for drawingteachers in Amsterdam. Her fascination for portrets and architecture started when she was part of a realistic paintersmovement that concentrated around Galerie Mokum.
She eventually experienced fine painting as a corset that was too oppressive. For several years she tried to expand herself outside of this. This is the reason why she was experimentating a lot in the eighties and the beginning of the nineties. The familiar depict was reduced and sometimes even on the border of total abstraction. In this way images arouse in which space seemed to burst into an explosion of air, clouds and tatters of stony angel figures. Or the image got decomposed into architecture fragments that are floating freely whereby the frame was being part of the depict itself. In this way the paintings got a fresco-like feeling, as if Van Keulen was looking for a more brief and emblematic way of painting. New forms of figuration occurred and the surface had a more independent value.
That long and turbulent period of experiment was ended in the mid nineties. The peace has returned and the depict is recovered. It also leaded to a different sort of painting: more free, with looser touches that mingle itself into shimmering colour patches. The imaged figures seem more frozen in time. They are standing or sitting in stillness, immortalized, cemented into the surface like a building. It’s like the everyday life is being lifted into something sacred. That’s how a still world of buildings and people arise.