Berend Boorsma

The painter Berend Boorsma draws upon traditional techniques to evoke a sense of modernism in his work that is allied equally to the artistic movements of the previous century, as it is the present moment.

Each piece “starts with chaos, where anything can happen,” and slowly evolves over days and months, becoming more refined and distilled to its essence. Following Taoist principles, Boorsma tries “only to act when it comes from within. It is a process in which the painting finds its own form.”

Based on simple paper constructions, Boorsma’s series ‘Folded Views’ is an ongoing exploration of dimensionality: of flatness and depth, and our perception of it. The paper constructions are a device, offering flat planes and sharp lines, areas of light and shade, however, the resulting paintings are less about geometry and mathematics, and more about tone, texture and the passage of time.

In his more recent work, ribbon shapes dance across the canvas in small snippets or long tendrils, smooth and flowing or disjointed and angular, drawing the eye across the surface. Touching upon both abstraction and figuration, these compositions do not have a strong sense of orientation, instead they focus on rhythm and movement, with a musicality that is reminiscent of Kandinsky or Klee.

Painted in a palette of rich yet subdued colors – brick red, deep teal, yellow ochre – Boorsma’s surfaces have a patina of sorts: an all-over texture and a lived-in quality. Adopting a classical approach, the artist first applies his paint in thin coats of soft, pastel-like colors before “glazing over them”, using paint with increasingly more oil mixed into it. Through this process, a sense of time is built up, created in multiple layers of paint and oil, color and texture.

Boorsma’s work has been included in numerous group shows, as well as two solo presentations: ‘Against the Beat’ at Francis Boeske Projects in 2015 and ‘Folding Views’ at Galerie Amsterdam Stories in 2018. He lives and works in his home country of the Netherlands, with a studio located in Zaandam, just north of Amsterdam.

'in this life(s)' installation view

I only act when it comes from within. It is a process in which the painting finds its own form.