Hans de Bruijn
My work is solidly rooted in and based on the painterly tradition. Romanticism is especially crucial for my work. Already from the 1980’s on, I am using the romantic ‘vocabulary’. This ‘language consists mainly of spatial structures by which human emotion was to be expressed. From the beginning I introduced a conceptual element to romanticism. It’s not the landscape itself that I paint, nor ‘reality’, but I paint the painted landscape. In doing so I create the ‘landscape of painting’. For instance, I painted great romantic masters in their own most characteristic painted landscape. So I positioned Caspar David Friedrich on the mountain top in his ‘Wanderer uber das Nebelmeer’ and Monet at the side of his ‘own’ pond with water lilies, Pollock in his own ‘dripping’ and Rothko in his abstract seascape.
Through this conceptual approach I may use all kinds of romantic cliches, and at the same time introduce romanticism into our own time, giving new meaning to the already rich painting tradition of the western world.
In the last few years I appropriated the ultimate romantic theme: the ruin. My ruin paintings do not evoke a traditional melancholic image expressing bygone time (or the course of time). My ruin is a cultural ruin, expressing our contemporary time. For its shape I chose the demolition of the house of birth of Rembrandt van Rijn. One of our grand masters of painting, by romanticism proclaimed a genius, has no more a house of birth. In my paintings I show this demolition, which was bluntly published in the local newspaper, as a new and painful aspect of ‘ruin painting’.
With these means I try to comment on the contemporary cultural and moral decay. Lately I am visualizing this theme by painting the main museum-ruins in Amsterdam: the Stedelijk and the Rijksmuseum are already ten years under ruinous ‘reconstruction’, as a result of which the cultural life in the Netherlands has come to an almost total standstill. Notwithstanding all that, my paintings show that art cannot die because of its own tradition.