Meet the nominees for the NN Art Award 2024 II: Jan van der Pol

‘Quatre Bras III’ 200 x 150 cm, 2023

For the eighth year in a row, the NN Art Award will be awarded to a promising artist who completed their studies at an art academy in the Netherlands and is exhibiting at Art Rotterdam. This year, for the first time, the nominees will exhibit their work in the prestigious Kunsthal Rotterdam, from 1 February to 14 April 2024. The nominated artists for the NN Art Award 2024 are Maaike Kramer (Art Gallery O-68), Mónica Mays (Prospects section of the Mondriaan Fund), Jan van der Pol (CREMAN & DE ROOIJ) and Peim van der Sloot (Brinkman & Bergsma). 

Dutch artist Jan van der Pol is intrigued by the dynamic interaction between our eyes and our brain when we perceive images. His work is inspired by urban and industrial landscapes, as well as literature and news images. This can result in figurative works or abstract pieces with figurative elements, but in his more recent work, the artist increasingly leans towards abstract and quasi-geometric pieces in a myriad of colours. Since the 1980s, Van der Pol has been compiling a kind of visual diary, consisting of his daily drawings and watercolours. Van der Pol says, "These books often have a central theme and can be seen as works that, due to their form, resemble Chinese scroll drawings, which cannot be comprehended in a single glance. By unrolling them on one end and rolling them up on the other, it gradually reveals small parts to the viewer, so that they can assemble the whole image in their minds."

The 74-year-old artist was educated at the Rietveld Academy and the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.

Jan van der Pol

Could you tell us more about the work you will be presenting at Kunsthal Rotterdam?
The works that I will present in the Kunsthal consist of two parts: two large drawings and three small, recent oil paintings. The drawings were made in 2021 and are titled "A Walk of Life”. They all consist of a single line that can be interpreted as a metaphor: where the line begins, viewers can see birth, and at the end of that line, it leads them off the paper — greeted by the Grim Reaper. As for the oil paintings, I can't say much; I can only recommend that viewers approach them with an open mind, take things in slowly, and perhaps contemplate what they have seen afterwards.

What are your plans for 2024? What are you currently working on?
My plans for 2024 are not very concrete, except for the desire to spend as much time as possible in my studio. Additionally, I have plans for new publications. I view publications as part of my output, and I try to add something to them at regular intervals. In the near future, there will be a publication featuring a coherent series of 26 drawings titled "The Comfort Zone of the Stoic”. It will be the fifth publication in the "A NEW DAY" series.

What is your primary source of inspiration?
If one can speak of sources of inspiration — I generally don't like to use the word “inspiration” — it might be the incredible complexity of the world and our relationship to it as human beings.

What advice would you like to offer to the new generation of artists?
I taught at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague for 25 years. Conversations with students were occasionally fantastic, but ultimately, everyone has to figure it out for themselves. And that's often very enjoyable. Sometimes, there's a bonus, like being nominated for an award like this, which turns out to be a particularly pleasant surprise.

The winner of the NN Art Award will be announced in the Kunsthal Rotterdam on Thursday 1 February at 20:00 CET. The work of the nominees will be on display there until 14 April 2024. Jan van der Pol's work will also be exhibited at the CREMAN & DE ROOIJ booth during Art Rotterdam.

Written by Flor Linckens

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