Hidden Monuments – Paintings by German Artist Robert Vellekoop
Robert Vellekoop’s paintings offer a vision of our material world through a digital perspective. His semi-abstract vibrant canvases feature commonplace objects, landscapes and interiors that have been graphically stylised and rendered into fluid shapes, and boiled down to their essential form, into flat and familiar symbols and pictograms – reminding me of our increasing use of generic yet popular internet slang and emojis as tools to express ourselves.
The subjects of Vellekoop’s paintings – stark interiors, still life, empty streets and flyovers, lamps, hills – are rendered without any distinct characteristics or detail, so while we are perhaps able to discern what they are, our attention is directed to the abstractness of their shapes and bold application of colour. Large areas of tonal gradation, like a Microsoft Paint effect, make up the background of his paintings so that his subjects, intersect and interact in 2-dimensional subconscious space.
His “interchange” series for example, represent dimly lit roads, highways and flyovers made up of crips lines that seemingly float in a tonal abyss. Having been stylistically rendered to their most essential form, the artist focuses our attention to the the graphic quality of the highways that cut across the canvas from one side to another, lined with street lights, which emanate a feint glow from their naive and slender lollipop shaped bulbs.
Looking at his still-life paintings, on the other hand, which feature abstracted bottles, lamps and tables, in many ways I am reminded of Synthetic Cubsim because of its structured dissection of the subject, the fragmented image, the multiple viewpoints and use of different textures (like the innovative way collage was applied to canvases at the time).
The Hamburg based artist gives meaning to the mundane objects and material surroundings that feature constantly in our everyday by transforming these familiar elements into quasi digital renderings. Ultimately, Vellekoop expresses this urge to reconstruct our surroundings through a digitally inspired universe.