The first time I saw Klaas Van der Linden’s works was in the studio of Graphic Art at the university college Sint-Lucas in Ghent. I loved it straightaway. If only because he wasn’t just another student of Graphic Art who turned desolate port scenes into sterile ‘graphical’ patterns. Klaas was confident about what he was doing and you couldn’t compare that to just anyone or anything. This was in his third year, the year he traded his spray can for a painting brush.
Klaas obviously wasn’t impressed by the current ‘bricolage’ trend and grew into an out-and-out realist. For his first paintings he used a model that was always available. He painted himself in nocturnal self-portraits. Sometimes ironically, sometimes emotively. His face covered in foam, blood or band-aids. Like this, he stood in front of the mirror some considerable times and translated his model on canvas. The night is Klaas’s specialty. In every painting the dark light of the night shines. This is partially thanks to his nightly life as a graffiti painter, but also because of an eye defect. Only against a black background does he have a sharp eye. And as it befits a true artist, he turned that disadvantage into an advantage.
Klaas is looking for the spirit of the night. Literally and figuratively. The night is an adventure, where he encounters less common scenes of himself and of others. Klaas does just fall asleep sometimes resting his head on his dog, following his father’s example, who, in an unguarded moment, sinking back, has dozed off. But when the street calls him at night, in his imagination he becomes a 19th century English character, searching for the romantic reality of the nightly life on the street. There are enough companions around at night: railroad workers, street workers and young night-revellers. And if they aren’t there familiar signs of the proverbial night appear like in a series of paintings with a skull.
The music of the night he manages to capture is promising.
Jeroen Laureyns (Translation : Marlies De Coninck)
Klaas Van der Linden