Haarlem-based Dutch contemporary artist Robert Zandvliet explores form and colour through abstraction.Read More
Born in Terband in the Netherlands, Robert Zandvliet studied at Christelijke Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten, graduating in 1992. He gained an MFA from De Ateliers, Amsterdam in 1994.
Zandvliet's early paintings reflect his considered study of artists such as Piet Mondrian, Willem de Kooning, and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as Baroque painters Rembrandt and Diego Velázquez. Often using historic paintings as a starting point for his own abstract works, Zandvliet unpacks their subjects and colours through a dramatic simplification of form and palette, with his favoured medium of egg tempera on linen positioning his practice in the historical western painting lineage.
Zandvliet focuses his practice on exploring the boundaries of the brushstroke, using different techniques to achieve shapes, lines, and colours that suggest recognisable forms. His gestural, varied brushwork brings dimension to otherwise flattened pictorial surfaces—demonstrated in the de Kooning-esque painting Red Studio (2009), with sharp flourishes of contrasting orange and black filling in a roughly outlined geometric maze—a graphic rendition of abstract expressionism.
On Zandvliet's 2012 exhibition I Owe You the Truth in Painting 1650-2012, Hans den Hartog Jager wrote for Artforum: 'His titles refer back to canonical works, while his signature spalter brushwork sets his paintings apart, creating spare, powerful images that seem to convey an almost Platonic essence of reality.'
Robert Zandvliet's 2013 exhibition Seven Stones at Bernhard Knaus Fine Art signalled a shift in his practice towards minimalist essentialism. Through a series of seven large-scale abstract paintings, Zandvliet sought to capture the simplest representations of different stones, with each canvas depicting a single stone. His accompanying watercolours reveal further possibilities for articulating the objects, with each engaging colour, form, and technique differently.
Zandvliet's 2021 exhibition Anatomy of Colour at Peter Blum Gallery marks a further turn towards colour theory, with the artist seeking to find 'the colour's body'—the form through which a colour is optimised. Through pared-back painterly explorations of colour, Zandvliet engages Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner's theory that colour is not real, but rather an image of something tangible.
The artist began each work with a colour, while he attempted to identify the most recognisable form each specific colour could inhabit. The landscape Tangerine (2019), worked in acrylic and egg tempera on linen, features a spherical tangerine sun hovering along a muddy horizon, tucked behind dense clouds. Linde (2021) is a neon green close-up of a leaf, translucent as though held up to sunlight. The colour works play with perception and evocation, foregrounding the viewer's visceral response to Zandvliet's interpretation of colour.
Zandvliet's work has been the subject of several publications, including Robert Zandvliet: Stones & Sketches (2015), Robert Zandvliet: Seven Stones (2013), and Robert Zandvliet: I Owe You the Truth in Painting (2012).
Selected solo exhibitions by Robert Zandvliet include Anatomy of Colour, Peter Blum Gallery, New York (2021); le corps de la couleur, Galerie Onrust, Amsterdam (2021); Dawn to Dusk, Dordrechts Museum (2019); 63 x 72, Galerie Knoell, Basel (2019); Stage of Being, Bernhard Knaus Fine Art, Frankfurt and Galerie Onrust, Amsterdam (2018); Trunk, Galerie Mark Müller, Zurich (2017); Shades, Peter Blum Gallery, New York (2016); and une barque sur l'océan, Galerie Jean Brolly, Paris (2015).
Selected group exhibitions include De 2e Biënnale Kunst in de Heilige Driehoek, Oosterhout (2021); Black Light. Notions of the Sublime in Contemporary Art, Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Switzerland (2021); Paint on Paper, Galerie Onrust, Amsterdam (2019); Freedom: The Fifty Key Dutch Artworks Since 1968, Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle (2019); welt offen, Pforzheim Galerie (2017); Parallel #15: ..and more paintings..., Galerie Mark Müller, Zurich (2017); The Line is Thought — Fascination Drawing, Galerie Stihl Waiblingen (2017); and Mental Yellow (High Noon), Kunstmuseum Bonn (2017).
Zandvliet was the recipient of the Wolvecamp Prize (2004), the Charlotte Köhler Prize (1998), and Prix de Rome (1994).
Zandvliet's paintings are held in museum collections worldwide, including the Colby College Museum of Art, Maine; Kunstmuseum Luzern; Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; Kunstmuseum Bonn; De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg; Museum Belvédère, Heerenveen; Dordrechts Museum; Kunstmuseum Den Haag; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Vleeshal Center for Contemporary Art, Middelburg.
Article on the artist can be found in publications, including Art Forum.
Text courtesy Bernhard Knaus Fine Art.