In his abstract oil paintings, Steven Aalders (Middelburg, 1959) incorporates the ideas of Piet Mondriaan’s modernism and American minimal art. His work is an attempt to re-document the tradition of art history and offer a personal interpretation of it. He connects typical modernist principles, such as repetition and working in series, with older traditions in art. His use of colour is based on various historical colour concepts.

The rhythm of life

The centrepiece of the exhibition is the series View (after Bruegel) from 2019. This series consists of six minimal, abstract-geometric paintings and is based on The seasons, a cycle of also six paintings representing the seasons by Pieter Bruegel the Elder from the mid-16th century. Depicting the seasons and the natural course of the year is an age-old tradition in painting. In View, Steven Aalders connects the 1970s penchant for working in series with the old representation of the seasons that once determined the rhythm of life. A natural rhythm that has been increasingly supplanted in modern times.

Use of colour

The six paintings that make up View each consist of three equal vertical strips. The different colours of these strips, applied layer by layer, are the result of a study into Bruegel’s use of colour. Just as Bruegel adjusted his palette to the prevailing weather conditions in the successive periods of the year, in View the progression of the year is also tangible: from February / March to April / May and so on.

In the exhibition, the series is accompanied by other recent works in which the use of colour is related to the different seasons. This creates a connection between the colour circle, in which one colour transitions into the next, and the seasons as a concept of time and space.

In 2017, Steven Aalders spent four months in the Van Doesburg House in Meudon near Paris. The exhibition includes a screening of the film Steven Aalders op zoek naar rood geel & blauw (Steven Aalders in search of red, yellow and blue), produced by Robert-Jan Muller, Rudolf Evenhuis, Bas Wooldrik and Robert van Altena.

Images: Steven Aalders, View (After Bruegel, October/November), 2019 and View (After Bruegel, June/July), 2019