Leon van den Eijkel
Leon van den Eijkel was born in Holland and studied at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague. He has lived and worked in New Zealand since the late eighties, his works becoming a familiar sight across sculpture trails and within major public and private art collections across the country. Well known for his large scale, minimalist, abstract sculptures, Leon’s Red Cloud Confrontation in Landscape installed at Gibbs farm may be a familiar sight to many Aucklanders.
During visit to the Municipal Museum in The Hague, Leon recalled seeing Mondrian’s The Red Cloud, 1907, and thinking, “Wow, how can you have a red cloud?” This sparked his interest in colour, and has been pinpointed as the moment Leon knew he wanted to be an artist.
Leon van den Eijkel's exploration of colour developed further after moving to Wellington, New Zealand in the 1950s. Soon after, he “came up with the concept of creating a new palette of colour”. Inspired by his interactions with Maori artists and their conversations about their art ancestors, Leon has claimed Mondrian as his own, thanks to the artist’s restricted palette and examination of colour. It was then that a new colour worked its way into Leon's own palette- the colour purple. “I think that in the Pacific you must have purple – everything you look at, everything you pick up, purple is there.”
Leon also has several works in the National collection at Te Papa, major collections across New Zealand, and can also boast inclusion in prestigious collections across the Netherlands and in New York. We are thrilled to welcome him into the fold at Black Asterisk.
ANNOUNCING A NEW SHOW
Listening to the Future- a solo show by Leon van den Eijkel
Life is like Art for its own sake. We are living in an eternal now, and when we listen to the Future, we are not listening to the Past. For me the most compelling aspect of Art is developing a concept that communicates to the viewer, Art is an opportunity to connect with people, listen to their needs and deliver experiences which reflect positively on society. Art should inspire peoples and cultures to grow, transform and look to the Future. You never know what the Future holds. So follow your heart, make Your dreams come true and listen to the Future.”- Leon van den Eijkel
It is almost impossible to discuss Leon van den Eijkel without also discussing colour. van den Eijkel describes his use of colour as ‘colour coding’. “Colour coding perfectly balances the thin line between urbanisation and nature. There is a tremendous capacity for variation, especially when various colours are combined. Selection and limitation of the colours, however, guarantee a solid structure that is nonetheless free of rigidity as a result of this elastic and broad method.”
We also can't avoid mentioning his past. Over his 30 year career, van den Eijkel has not limited himself to one art making practice, but rather has produced lightboxes, paintings multimedia installations, and sculptures - even including the classic Kiwi bbq - that utilise reflective surfaces and colours that are often based on his continuing dialogue between his homeland, the Netherlands, and the Pacific. Some of van den Eijkel's more well-known works include the Red Cloud Confrontation in Landscape (1996) which peeps out of Gibbs farm, watching the water in the Kaipara harbour (1996), and Urban Forest (2007) which listens to the winds blowing in from the Cook Strait to Wellington’s Lyall Bay.
“For a long time I didn’t think about the past, just looked forward, but I don’t want to forget the past and the positive, rich memories of my childhood.” One particular memory was unlocked when Leon experienced his first sunrise in New Zealand. The distinct, unusual colours of a New Zealand sunset reminded him of being a young boy and visiting the seeing Mondrian’s The Red Cloud. This moment was the instigator of the style and palette Leon van den Eijkel is known for. He combines the modernist styles of geometric abstraction like De Stijl and Mondrian with a fresh perspective on the Pacific.
"I'm not a writer," Leon states. "I can only make small statements. But for me, my colours are my way of writing. I'm living now where I want to live, in the Pacific. I like working with the links from my old to my new life, which is why I want to relate them to the Pacific colours."
Adding another level to the many accomplishments of van den Eijkel’s art filled past, at Black Asterisk we are Listening to the Future. Obviously on a more accessible scale than the huge and high profile public tours de force, Leon’s new works nevertheless dominate the gallery grounds of The Asterisk. The colour blocked canvas sculptures encourage us to pay more attention to our surroundings. “Like coloured windows, van den Eijkel’s walls of unique Pacific colours speak more to us than the stained glass church windows of an old and tired Europe.”- Brian Richards
For both Leon van den Eijkel and Black Asterisk the future sounds inspiring. Come and have a look, and a listen, for yourselves and join us at the preview on Thursday 7th March from 6:30-9:00. The exhibition runs from 8-27th March, Tues-Fri 12pm-5pm, Sat 11am-3pm. See you here!