Photo © Jade Hermkens
Jeroen Hermkens (St. Anthonis, March 31, 1960) received his training at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten (Academy for Visual Arts) in Utrecht and the Atelier lithografique Champfleury in Parijs. In 1996, he was awarded the Dutch Graphic Art Award for his large lithographs; ten years later, he became Dutch Artist of the Year 2006. His artwork has been on display both at home and abroad, with expositions in Vienna, New York, New Orleans, Beauvais and Bruges. Within the Netherlands, his work has been showcased in, among others, Museum Flehite in Amersfoort, Museum de Buitenplaats in Eelde, Museum Rijswijk, Slot Zeist, the Singer Museum in Laren and the Utrecht Central Museum.
In 2000, CNN International broadcasted a short documentary about his work. Being proclaimed Artist of the Year led to an exposition in the Museum Jan van de Togt in Amstelveen. In the following years, he travelled around the globe for dredging company Van Oord, resulting in the Koos van Oord Collection. The collection was revealed in 2010 in the Rotterdam Kunsthal. A number of his litographs have been acquired by the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam for their permanent collection. Seeing Jeroen’s litographs and paintings means being confronted by its expressive identity, the conscious and forceful brush strokes, and the subtle colour choices. People are usually absent in his artwork. “My work is the result of my fascination with the urban environment. My focus is not on the people in the streets but rather on the bare bones of each place, its streets, its bridges, the inconspicuous half forgotten and unglamorous ‘worn patches’ of each city.”
Here Jeroen Hermkens finds the true soul of each place which he has chosen to capture. “I do not try to depict these surroundings realistically, it’s rather the way I experience a particular place. Nor are my artworks townscapes; they are more like portraits of a city. I try to capture the essence of a town. What is it like, what does it smell like and what does it feel like to be there? What interests me is the overall atmosphere. Colours play a major role here. For me, every city has its own colour, which is determined by far more than just the climate. Feelings, like boredom or admiration, can also play a role. If it is a hot, but dull country, then the print might be green. With colours I’m able to show my sense of the city. In fact, my work is closer to Expressionism than Realism. Like the Expressionists, I want to stimulate the viewer’s fantasy, so that viewers can discover their own images in my work.”
Jeroen’s inspiration is not limited to the Netherlands. Several times a year he travels abroad (among others to Italy, Southern France, Yemen and the United States). Within the Netherlands, he frequently heads out to find new motives and perspectives within nature: old rail bridges, empty factories and abandoned stone quarries. Since 2010, he has broadened his field of work to portraits and nudes.
Jeroen Hermkens – Kunst en Werk (2015)
A portrait of Jeroen Hermkens by regional broadcaster RTV Utrecht (20 minutes)