Mirko Krabbé: Visions from Nature

       Watercolours and photographs portray faces, or rather individual features of faces. The surrounding space is densely claustrophobic, throwing into even greater relief the eyes, nose or mouth. It would be an oversimplification to term Mirko Krabbé’s work simply heterogeneous. His use of different techniques and expressive modes is the natural development of his personal mindset which views reality from the stance of both nature and society. Mirko conceives his installations, ceramics and items of design as different facets of a single way of creating art or of being an artist.

        The custom of travelling and encountering new civilisations is an intrinsic part of Dutch culture. Mirko follows in this tradition and his recent stay in a small Amazonian tribe has reconfirmed the curiosity and visionary quality which marks his artistic expression. The primitive rituals of these indigenous peoples, their strong animistic imprint and their fusion of nature and the sacred vibrate throughout Mirko’s work and, in this way, engender an exchange between the traditions of western civilisation and the - now rare - primordial traditions of South America.

        An ongoing investigation into nature may be seen in his paintings. Visions and metaphors are derived from nature but allude to man’s inner world, to the pain and suffering without which the contrary pole of joy and happiness could not exist. This is the instinctive wisdom of primitive peoples and also of the artist.

        For his canvasses Mirko chooses sensual flowers, though at times veined with a hint of violent vermillion which recall the work of Graham Sutherland, the great artist who has read man’s torment in nature. With great finesse in his use of symbolic shades of colour, Mirko Krabbé creates phytomorphic forms which inhabit the private space of consciousness and vision, and which only at a second reading become a shared collective experience.

        It is for this reason that, when seen against the background of the different expressive modes used by the artist, the combination of watercolours and photographs in this exhibition takes on particular interest. It sets the inspiration which only watercolour evokes with such immediacy – it must not be forgotten that Mirko comes from a family of artists and is fully versed in art theory and techniques – against that of digital photography. This is the element of surprise. It is only natural that forms tend to dissolve in watercolours, that the great accomplishment lies in the shades and layers of brush-strokes which infuse drama into those staring eyes and mouths gaping as if in mid-scream, while at the same time masking the feelings Mirko expresses with the great beauty of his technique. In the photos, on the other hand, all this is more evident and explicit. It strikes the imagination of the observer, it is the ‘proof’ that Mirko is working between two modes of creation, almost as if the one were a mirror or check to the other. The photos are blurred and hark back to the initial idea of the watercolour, but the artist’s attention is more highly focussed on certain features as if seen through the centre point of a photographic lens or a zoom onto specific facial elements – over and again, eyes, nose and mouth.

        Mirko knows that these are almost obsessive features in the art tradition (as also in one sector of the psychology of art). These elements, highlighted as they are, draw the observer in and, at the same time, trigger off a note of alarm, raise a series of questions and express unease. This is perhaps the artist’s intent: living in contact with his own reality he hopes his vision of art and his ideas may be useful to others. This is the traditional role of the artist and the ambition of much public art today. Mirko has made it his also. In his works, photographs, paintings, watercolours, ceramics and installations he frequently employs everyday objects in a circularity of expression which brings to mind the fascinating utopia of the avant-garde artists.

Rachele Ferrario

(Italia) Conservatrice / Critica d’Arte / Scrittore, Milano. may 2008

Mirko Krabbé is a multidisciplinairy artist