Joost Verhagen (1975) was continually drawing from a very young age. This was no surprise with art teachers and designers in the family who encouraged him. His grandparents lived in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. The large harbour impressed the young boy – the skyline, ships, refineries and terminals. On A3-sheets of paper, with pencil, he drew cityscapes and skylines of large, fictitious metropoles. Art school in Rotterdam was the obvious next step, but the course was not really what he was hoping for and a career in real estate followed.
A yearning remained. After backpacking in Australia in earlier life Joost Verhagen decided to emigrate there and work for several years as a labourer in infrastructure in the Outback. The rough landscapes stayed with him when he returned to Europe. Once again, he picked up pencil and paper. Also brushes. He studied classic painting at the art academy of Antwerp (Belgium) and graduated in 2019. Joost Verhagen is now a full-time painter, based in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) and his modern landscapes are sold worldwide. His art has been exhibited in The Netherlands, Belgium and India. He was chosen ‘Artist of the Month’ by Online Gallery in April 2021.
The artist translates the modern landscape, an ongoing quest. With his i-Phone camera he searches for images that can be transformed from photo to canvas. His starting point is realism. With simple tools, only brush, palette knife and usually acrylic paint on linen he aims to transform the image into something fascinating, surreal or alienating. The representation comes first: the Golden Ratio is of course important, but according to Joost Verhagen this should not be the only way to achieve the end result.
The artist will get to the edge of exaggeration, between realism and the abstract. In terms of colour anything goes, from light to dark. The subject matter may seem grim, but it is not without hope. Images and shapes must be genuine, not artificial. Joost Verhagen often finds this in desolate locations. ‘My starting point at first sight could be seen as still, boring or even without inspiration. But it is not hopeless - things are happening. Dynamics and progress are possible.’ He prefers working on linen larger than 1 x 1 metre, pinned to the wall. Only after he stretches the linen on a frame. This gives freedom to review the dimensions. Other themes are small landscape studies and portraits. These art works too transform realism into abstraction.
Joost Verhagen’s aim is to be freed from the definitive. The artist is inspired by modern landscapes painters such as Carla Klein, Jan Ros, Koen van de Broek and Erin McSavaney. Also by the American photography of Gregory Crewdson. ‘They are experts in alienating an everyday image to create great work.’ His own work has been called Modern Edward Hopper.