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Dutch Abstract in the OAMI: Ben Vollers (and Fons Heijnsbroek)

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It looks as a name of advertisement: French Bordeaux, Danish Blue, Dutch Abstract... In reality Dutch Abstract is the title of an exhibition of abstract art from the Low Lands, which is to be visited in the offices of OAMI in Alicante from the 3 of March until 29 April 2005. In the exhibited paintings the congealed light of the foggy Dutch delta meats the clear light of the Mediterranean Spanish coast. The exposing artists Ben Vollers and Fons Heijnsbroek live in Amsterdam, their place of living and painting. The city is surrounded by the Dutch polders, 3 meter under sea-level, at a distance of 20 kilometres from the North Sea coast. Every photographer making pictures of paintings knows how hard it is to approximate the real colours of a painting. By increase of digital design-possibilities of recent time, one thing has made itself clear: there doesn't exist something like the only real colour-version of a painting. It never existed! The light in which we regard a painting cannot be commanded. It is by the grace of the changing of light that colours come alive on the canvasses of this exhibition. Because it is the light which plays the leading part in the paintings of the two artists.

In the course of years Ben Vollers is implicating the more and more the light and the atmosphere in his painting. About four years ago the work of the Venetian Rococo painter
Tiepolo became of greater significance for him. Vollers thin cloudy apply of the paint, put down with a loose brush, has gut much relationship with the clear colours of fresco which Tiepolo so lightly conjured on the walls of so many Spanish churches. This meeting with an old painter helped Ben Vollers to realize in his pallet of colours a stronger clearness, a dose of carelessness and a surly charm. However, Dutch origin cannot be pushed away so easily. Good art always has his regional part too: she is not afraid to show her roots, her typical origin. In the paintings of Ben Vollers we can smell the Dutch moist airs and the humid soil in which the houses stand there with their feet. We recall easily to the famous painter Jacob Ruysdael who painted in Holland during the 17th century subjects like the Jewish cemetery, a castle in ruin near the dunes around Haarlem or Swedish waterfalls. In the way of painting of Ben Vollers we find back the traces of the painting tradition of Dutch landscape. It was in this tradition the very painters choose in concord for the atmosphere of the landscape. They explored all possibilities of brown, grey and the many earth-colours to reconstruct that mysterious depth in their canvases, they could see in the nebulous airs of spacious river-landscapes almost every day.

We will not find spacious distances in the works of Ben Vollers, because he has lifted up the landscape. Upright it stands under our very nose. We don't look in the depth at his work but things and forms which populate his canvases lively appear just in front of our very eyes. Between these many things and forms there is room left of which we can experience the mist and the damp. These things do not stand hard and isolated for themselves because they are assimilated in a totality of atmosphere. On one spot of the canvas we can see a fragment of a landscape, a fence, a way. But next to it our eyes strike against a thing of daily use, a wheel, a pot, a book. Everything swam around in the paintings of Ben Vollers, painted in a great variation of different colour tones. His paintings presented on Dutch Abstract show a busy-populated world of things worked on by imagination, bur undeniable coming from daily life we all do live in. Mostly objects and parts of landscape are connected in the very fog of atmosphere. That's the characteristic in Ben Vollers paintings, the atmosphere of the Dutch low country land for the artist himself, as a connecting power in his work and painting...

Jan Homacher