'Back in 2006, or 2007, I painted a kind of a landscape, in a very liquid way; sometimes abstract and sometimes realistic. But I would always add details, like a cow in the foreground watching its shed or hut, standing in a puddle of water. And the cow, in that work, is standing on the hill. But can't go back to the hut... And what I like about that painting, is that there are different levels to it. A daily life scene; a cow watching the effects of global warming. But on another level, maybe I'm the cow, doubting the painted landscape I made. So, there's an irony in my work... It's a mix of abstraction and figuration, and philosophy.'
For the fifteenth episode of 'Dutch Art & Design Today', I sat down with Sven Kroner, a Düsseldorf-based painter whose works on large-scale canvases making use of acrylics, are simultaneously familiar yet otherworldly, while also being utterly entrancing. Sven was born in Kaufbeuren, then in West Germany, in 1973, surrounded by the verdant landscapes of the Northern Alps, aligning the Austrian and Swiss borders. He describes the nature in this part of Germany as being, 'like a fairytale', and where he spent time with his friends during his youth—as they all dreamed of moving away from their small town, to bigger cities. Not necessarily from an artistic lineage of painters, he came to art of his own volition, after museum visits as a child, taking an interest in contemporary German artists, as well as some of his own experiments using aquarelles and oil paint. Sven then studied painting, at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, from 1994-2000; a city he had never visited before his acceptance there; though it is also where he has lived, and worked, ever since.
In this hour-long conversation, Sven and I discuss his childhood spent in southern Germany, and how the landscapes that surrounded him there in the area, influenced how these landscapes returned as a subject, within his work. Sven talks about his time at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf; why he chose to study there; and what he did while there; before zooming in on his mentor at the academy, Dieter Krieg (1937-2005), explaining what he absorbed from him, that he still makes use of, today. Sven is known for paintings that, put simply, create worlds within worlds. He makes use of acrylic paints—a medium he once referred to as nearly being, 'plastic'. It is rare to find an artist of his statue using acrylics instead of oils, and so we also discuss his technique; how he uses the medium to create his work; and how the medium differs from oils. Lastly, we discuss his exhibition titled 'Atmosphere', at Gallery Fons Welters in Amsterdam, from 8 September-14 October 2023, and how his more recent work involves the themes of domesticity, and the Anthropocene.
You can learn more about Sven and his paintings, and books, over on his website.
You can read about Sven's exhibition 'Atmosphere', on Gallery Fons Welter's website.
You can find John on Twitter @johnbezold and at his website johnbezold.com.