In his painted imagery, Hendrik Krawen examines phenomena that affect society and the individual – it is about consumption, globalisation and contemporary history. Painting is the main focus of his work, mostly executed in oil and always with great precision, meticulous in detail, with a clear, precise pictorial structure. At the same time, his focus is always on the graphic. Krawen’s characters, geometric shapes and figures take on a value that goes beyond their original function in everyday life, but also beyond in graphic design.
Hendrik Krawen paints typographies from the world of advertising, architectural elements, historical and modern ornaments as well as free-standing, anonymous figures. By combining realistic with fictitious elements, he creates painted collages that he deprives of any realism through colouring or the arrangement of the subjects, making them accessible to subjective associations.
The people who appear in Krawen’s paintings could be from the big city, anonymous and without faces. Depicted only in silhouettes, there is something emblematic about them, as if they were set pieces taken from readily available sources. Krawen’s figures do not narrate – at most, we see a moment, an effigy. The figures take part in a construction of plains and forms.
Thus, objects float freely in front of the expanse of the background. Spatiality remains abstract because it lacks depth; it is levelled out by repetitive patterns or undefined as emptiness. And even this emptiness becomes a pictorial object here, as a means of isolating the figures, the signs, and immersing them in a cool, timeless atmosphere. As vague as the space remains, as clear and sharp are the objects within it.
Even if what Krawen paints wants to be read and classified, it is ultimately indecipherable. He succeeds in establishing a distance through de-contextualisation. Paradoxically, this evokes a strong attraction, because greater than the supposed loss of interpretability is the gain of finding one's own potential for reflection in contemplation.
The exhibition title 'À VENDRE' refers to a sign indicating the sale of a property, which Krawen hangs in the window of the gallery. With this objet trouvé from Wallonia, he also addresses passers-by. It shows features that are characteristic of Krawen’s art: typography, urbanism and a timeless contemporary quality. The everyday of the message “À Vendre” is here transposed to another place, another language area, another context. For this exhibition, Hendrik Krawen has made it a co-player in the installative imagery that shows us the enigmatic of the familiar.