Jan Knap (Ghrudimi, 1949) is one of those artists who have steadily been working on his oeuvre since the 1980’s. Knap’s work is easy on the eyes, but by no means simple. His style and subject matter remind us of the Flemish Primitives and naïve painting, but without the typical stiffness of the former. This is mixed with humour and contemporary details like an electric iron, presenting his subjects as the picture perfect 1950’s families from commercials. Without ridiculing them or religion in a broader sense, we hasten to add. Even an atheist might take a liking to them.
A first impression leaves us dazzled by the rich use of colour and the chaos of several stories on one canvas. His paintings are inhabited by a woman, children, and fluffy white animals like cats, bunnies and –of course- sheep and doves. A grey donkey also enters the scene every now and then.
Halo’s and wings let us know we’re dealing with the holy family, living their daily lives on sunny meadows surrounded by heavenly creatures. Josef and little baby Jesus are never far away in these seemingly chaotic but lovely landscapes and interiors.
Knap started making his work as an anti sentiment during the wild postmodernism of the 1980’s, and succeeded in shocking the art world with his sugary motives. However, he has become fascinated by the wondrous aspects of daily life and finds joy in translating them onto canvas.
And he does it so well. By making compositions that are (all too) familiar we can focus on what his work is really about: the technique of painting, introspection, remembering to feed the pets when we get home.
Jan Knap enjoys international appreciation and his work is part of many museum and international private collections, a.o. those of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Centraal Museum Utrecht, Gian Enzo Sperone; Rome, David Hockney; London and Sanders Collection in The Netherlands.
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