Hans Broek | Preview
Hans Broek (Veenendaal, 1965) paints as if he were laying bricks with palette knives dipped in pitch. Slave forts, slave dungeons, plantation complexes in Africa and Surinam. Many buildings are still standing today. Guilty architecture, sometimes overgrown by nature. He travelled and worked on site, in Senegal, Ghana and Surinam. He remarks that the architectural typology of slavery’s past was “a gruesome eye opener … with a power structure that the Nazis learned from.” As a painter, he calms his bewilderment through his work.
In addition to his expressive, raw paintings of dungeons and fortresses, Broek has recently started painting architecture built in the Netherlands at the time: spaces filled with wealth, prosperity, status, and power. He zooms in on canal houses in Amsterdam that reflect the profits of slavery. A veil falls over the illustrious historical scenery. He also reflects on the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, formerly the city hall and also, as the title of this work explains, the Society of Suriname.
This was the seat of the trading company that, as the legal owner, administered the colony. The monumental building looms up in all its weight, carrying the past in an atmosphere of mystery, covered by clouds full of ghostly apparitions.
About Hans Broek
Hans Broek made his name internationally as a landscape painter in the mid-1990s. After studying in Utrecht and at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, he left the Netherlands. Following in the footsteps of the 17th-century Haarlem painter Frans Post, he wanted to paint “new worlds”. In the USA, he painted panoramic landscapes in California and his home city of Los Angeles, depicting cinematic suspense, often at night or dusk. Later, in New York, he also created portraits and interiors. In 2021, he delivered impressive results with his research into the Dutch history of slavery at Museum De Pont.
Text: Wilma Sütö