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 last autumn 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: Enter the Zone 2020.


Sjaak Kooij (1982, NL) graduated in 2005 from the Breitner Academy (AHK) in Amsterdam. Sjaak has been exhibiting solo and in groups in The Netherlands and abroad. His works have been exhibited at Galerie Bart (Amsterdam, NL), Broadway Stages Gallery (New York City, USA), Arti et Amicitiae (Amsterdam, NL), and BCMA (Berlin, DE). He has also participated in various art fairs, such as This Art Fair (Amsterdam, NL), Other Art Fair (New York City USA), and YIA art fair (Brussels, BE). An important factor in the development of his works are the two residencies that Sjaak has completed in the United States: in 2016, he spent time in Detroit at Spread Art, and in 2019 he stayed at The Mothership in New York. Sjaak is also an art teacher.

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2020 •
10.04 Parool Sjaak Kooij maakt de zelfkant tot nieuwe vorm by Edo Dijksterhuis.

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 •
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