Jeroen Krabbé was born in Amsterdam in 1944 into a family of painters. His grandfather was a noted member of the Larense School and his father is also a painter, as well as the author of works on art and education. After studies at the Rietveld Academy of Art, Amsterdam (1961-62), he changed course and went to Drama School in Amsterdam, graduating in 1965. For ten years he worked in theatre and film, both acting and directing, building a major reputation as one of Holland’s most successful and best-regarded actors.
In 1975 Krabbé decided to return to his long-sustained commitment to painting. On the recommendation of the painter Melle, whose influence is evident in Krabbé’s earlier work, he entered the National Academy of Fine Art in Amsterdam (1978-81). Here he was guided by Friso ten Holt, as he began to discover his own, partial path to abstraction. Since 1984 Krabbé has held exhibitions widely in Holland, including Drie Generaties Krabbé (Three Krabbé Generations) at the Singer Museum, Laren (1985) and a major public retrospective at the Gemeentelijke Expositieruimte, Kampen (1992). In 1998 his work was chosen to feature in De Losgezongen Toets: figurative art in the Netherlands since 1945 at the Eelde Museum, North Holland. In 1999, along with Karel Appel, he was appointed by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands a Commander in the Order of the Dutch Lion, his country’s highest distinction.
Since 1992 Jeroen Krabbé has been represented by Francis Kyle Gallery. Between 1993 and 2010 he has held eleven one-man exhibitions there, eight of these devoted to works in oil and three to watercolours. In 2004 Jeroen Krabbé: painter by Ruud van der Neut, a comprehensive account of his career in painting, was published by Waanders of Zwolle in Dutch and English editions. In 2007 work by Jeroen Krabbé was purchased for the Permanent Collection of the Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle.
In 2008 the Museum de Fundatie presented Jeroen Krabbé, Painter: a Retrospective featuring some 250 works spanning the artist’s career over twenty-five years including loans from many collections worldwide, introduced by Prof. Ronald de Leeuw, Director of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. In 2009, Unknown Horizons, an exhibition recording the artist’s travels in South America and the Far East was shown at the Kasteel het Nijenhuis, Heino.
In 2010 De Onvergang van Abraham Reiss, a tribute in nine paintings to the artist maternal grandfather was shown in the Museum de Fundatie.
Krabbé’s landscapes convey an entirely convincing sense not only of place but also season and climate. They do so not by itemizing the particular in accumulation of closely scrutinised details but, exploring the narrow border between abstraction and figuration, they rather distil from what has been seen, experienced and then sharply recalled, the concentrated essence of physical features, atmosphere and mood.
Frank Whitford, The Sunday Times
Colour in Krabbé remains strong and clear, the paint thick, the surface rich, the effect at times to make Holland seem as exotic as Cambodia – which no doubt at times it is. But while the actual statement, too, remains as open on the surface as it always was, the touch by contrast has grown softer, calmer, more subtle and reflective. The painterly gesture is less obvious, too, less sweeping and expansive, while the interest in pattern is now less an interest in itself than a function of the landscape it in part describes.
William Packer, The Financial Times
Painting in recent decades has often taken the form of dry reduction to the bare minimum. A few stripes, a simple contrast of colour, perhaps the ultimate sobriety of all-white, or all-black canvases. This trend established, in the minimalist movement of the ‘60s, what one might call a norm of visual under-nourishment. Clearly, however, such austerities are not for the Dutch artist Jeroen Krabbé – who began his training as a painter precisely in the ‘60s, and returned to art in the even drabber ‘70s.
Krabbé is a man for all seasons, pigments and climates. His Malaysian landscapes are filled with the supersaturated hues of the tropics – Madonna blue, gold, scarlet. These are pictures made up, very frequently, of big, simple stretches of colour – dark seas, burnished skies – set against writhing, spikey vegetation. The results put one in mind of brocade, or oriental metal work. At the same time, as is common in his work, the pictures come very close to complete abstraction while remaining quite definitely landscapes – and highly exuberant, accessible ones, at that.
Martin Gayford, The Daily Telegraph
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