Sjaak Kooij

A strikingly vivid and contrasting use of colours draws you into the image, where a feeling that is both familiar and eerie takes hold of you. Is it the nature of the image, or the confrontation with ourselves? ‘My work moves between actuality and fiction,’ says Sjaak Kooij. ‘It is based on reality but is not the reality. It’s a mirror of the world in which we live, like a contemporary commedia dell’arte.’

The seamy side of society is a recurring theme in Sjaak’s paintings and sculptures. A trip to New York shifted the focus of his newest series to the harsh reality, or something resembling it, even more. In recognizable but at the same time dystopian streetscapes, the striking absence is that of people. The stillness of the images emphasizes the traces we leave on our environment, however. We see a paper bag from McDonald’s, laughing gas canisters and garbage lying around, sometimes already overgrown with weeds. Like contemporary Vanitas still lifes, they point out the transience of human life – and in the broader sense, of the Earth.

• Recent exhibition at Galerie Bart: Rambling in Arcadia 2023 • Kunst Rai 2021 • Enter the Zone 2020.


Sjaak Kooij, born in 1982, NL, currently lives and works in the Dutch town Den Oever. He graduated in 2005 from the Breitner Academy, AHK, in Amsterdam with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Sjaak has been exhibiting in solo and in group exhibitions in The Netherlands and abroad. His work has been shown at Galerie Bart Amsterdam, Broadway Stages Gallery in New York City, USA, Arti et Amicitiae Amsterdam, and BCMA in Berlin, DE among other occasions. He has participated in various art fairs, such as This Art Fair Amsterdam, Other Art Fair in New York City USA, and YIA art fair in Brussels BE. For the development of his work, two residencies in the USA have been important: in 2016, Sjaak spent time in Detroit at Spread Art, and in 2019 he stayed at The Mothership in New York. Furthermore, Sjaak has been a teacher of art for many years.

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2020 •
23.09 Noordhollands Dagblad Roet en rook door brandend piepschuim zijn de grote plaaggeesten van Den Oeverse kunstenaar Sjaak Kooij by Winnie van Galen.
10.04 Parool Sjaak Kooij maakt de zelfkant tot nieuwe vorm by Edo Dijksterhuis.
15.02 Kunst op de Klapstoel Sjaak Kooij bij Bart  by Frederike de Voogt

2019 •
10.01 Helderse Courant Realisme is geen realiteit by Evert Marsmans.
05.08 Noorhollands Dagblad Toiletgebouwtje in Julianapark ‘moet wel knallen’ by Eric Molenaar.
October Issue Palet Magazine Eigentijdse commedia dell’arte by Merel van den Nieuwenhof.

2018 •
05.11 Nieuws uit West-Friesland Sjaak Kooij in de 21e zondagmiddagsalon, editorial.
17.09 VICE Creators Kunstenaars vertellen hoe ze hun werk voor zoveel mogelijk geld proberen te verkopen by Gwen van der Zwan.

2017 •
10.04 Spoonful of Art Nederlandse kunstenaar Sjaak Kooij by Jolene den Boer.

Sjaak Kooij