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Johan Abeling


Johan Abeling (1953, Emmen)

Academie Minerva, Groningen (1972-1978)
Teachers i.a. Wout Muller and Barend Blankert.

Johan Abeling's paintings stand out for their mysterious atmosphere. The total desolation in his images creates a quality of air so strange as to appear imaginary. He often paints the vast northern Dutch landscape in which he inserts old Dutch-style villas, gates or border fences.

He is fascinated by the emptiness and silence of these northern landscapes and tries to create, with a minimum of objects, an enigmatic mood. All the elements, he uses are derived from reality, but not in the combination that can be seen in his paintings. In this way he creates a private world that only exists in his imagination.

Abeling states “ My work is about creating an atmosphere, playing with composition and light – the timeless feeling that atmosphere can evoke for me while I’m working. My paintings have their own personalities, their own stories and emotion. One can also see them as a moment of respite in a turbulent world where there is almost no time for contemplation. But there is also a disorienting quality in the quiet”

Abeling is a master at applying sfumato, a technique of overlapping several layers of transparent paint and softening tones and outlines into one another so the look of diffuse and filtered light is created. This technique was first applied by Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century and Abeling uses it to increase the mysterious effect in his paintings.

Ellen Bertrams (curator ING Collection)