The wilds beckon at times like these. Fresh air and majestic vistas convey a sense that the world will carry on, with or without us. Painting a landscape is to compose it, to imagine it as it appears to you and you alone. As a city-dweller from the flattened countryside of the Netherlands, Roel paints his mountains as matters of fact. Volumes that were devised as set compositions on the horizon. While someone living in the area might be more aware of their ever-changing presence and the age-old routes that pass through them. They would judge the distance between the easel and the foot of the mountain with far more accuracy. They might not even notice their grandeur at all. These seven scenes show a fascination for a place far from home. A departure from known surroundings and artistic comfort zones. After all, what young artist in this day and age would dare to paint a series of majestic snowy peaks and call it contemporary?
For Roel van der Linden these paintings are no tired exercises in representation. Rather, he views these works as homages to artistic techniques passed down the ages. There is much joy to be found in a well-painted hare and recognizable vegetation. Composing these works gives Roel a simple yet significant sense of accomplishment. They are creative acts that reaffirm what it could mean to live your life as a 'classic' artist. Looking at nature and having an accurate and clear idea of the things you see and how to capture their essence on canvas. Call these scenes hopelessly romantic or even escapist, they can take any insult with pride. To give in to the urge to create images that are just beautiful is a severe sin within contemporary practice. Roel feels it is a sin one needs to indulge in every now and then.
As a series, these new works fit within Roels's conceptual ideal of living as an artist - a devoted painter even - and taking your responsibility for that choice. In often whimsical pieces, Roel takes on different roles typically associated with a classic artistic life. From drinking red wine and discussing theory and idealism in a bar, to standing on a rocky pier with an easel to paint the ocean. He re-evaluates clichés to see if there is still any merit to them. His subject is often the self-portrait. But rather than depicting actual states of being or a diary-like record of his thoughts and evolution, he shows all the options that are available to him as an artist. It is as if he paints from parallel universes in which he had the chance to be a cubist, a romantic painter or a post-modern adept of new figuration. In these pieces, we see two clear self-portraits. Both “The darkest moment is just one hour before dawn” and “Forest Face” show an image of a potential Roel van der Linden. They act as cheeky riffs on the idea of the landscape as a mirror for the soul. They are self-aware but can't help take delight in intricate details and painterly showmanship. Their audiences can't help it either.
Roel van der Linden is a Dutch artist based in Prague, Czech Republic. He is represented by Kers Gallery in Amsterdam and Singular-Art in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. His works are collected throughout the world and have been part of numerous exhibitions in both Eastern Europe and the Netherlands. Besides his own practice, Roel is a very active promoter of the local scene in Prague and works hard to create cultural bridges between his native country and the one he calls home. A bon vivant and adventurer looking to squeeze as much out of artistic life as he can.