Wall painting no 294
Overwhelming in every way. That is the effect of the 36 coloured strips that Jan van der Ploeg painted on the fence and ceiling of the subway of the Ministry of Finance. How can a seemingly simple two-dimensional field of planes have such a strong spatial effect?
Van der Ploeg is one of the most important monumental painters we currently have in the Netherlands. Once started with paint on canvas, his work has become more and more monumental over the years and is increasingly to be found outside the gallery and museum. Nowadays, he paints more on walls of concrete and brick than on canvas.
All of Van der Ploeg's work is completely abstract. Just as with his older, American colourfield colleagues Barnett Newman(Who is afraid of red, yellow and blue, collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam), Elsworth Kelly and Sol LeWitt, he paints monumental areas of colour without a personal touch. So there is no handwriting to be found anywhere. Nevertheless, Van der Ploeg himself was less strict than his predecessors.
In the beginning, he painted mathematical and often even symmetrical and mirror-like compositions, but nowadays Van der Ploeg works more loosely. A common pattern is grip: derived from the cut-out handles of removal boxes. His choice of colours is mainly intuitive. He places pure colours directly next to 'dirty' colours - black is added - and next to colours with white mixed in. In the end it is the contrasts that make the difference. He looks at what a space needs. Like every figurative painter, he occasionally adds something by feel. If something is missing. Ultimately, Van der Ploeg is looking for something visually optimistic. The latter is not only to be found in the scale and austere execution. Above all, it has to do with a contrasting alternation of colours. This creates that overwhelming space.