Tjebbe Beekman’s canvases are simultaneously abstract and expressive, disorienting the viewer’s sense of space. Layering increasingly fragmented and polarised images, Beekman’s work is a personal reflection of contemporary society and his method of adapting to the existential events of today through creating a dialogue with his contemporaries of the past.

Beekman’s work embraces and pays tribute to a breadth of influences from Sandro Botticelli to Otobong Nkanga - balancing composition, color and perspective through the lens of art history while incorporating the nuance of socially and environmentally engaged contemporary work into his narrative. Beekman’s voracious palette of influences and ideas evokes the endless stream of media and information we sift through daily.

Nodding to historic iconographic painting, Beekman challenges what is expected of the medium to innovate and celebrate the act of creating in its entirety. Beekman uses digital tools to capture the glitches and internal references in his early motifs, before building them out using paint, sand and plaster which he layers onto the canvas with a brush, palette knife or his fingers, to later be scraped away or built up into relief. The layered surfaces of Beekman’s paintings underline the meaning of his work, and follow the artist’s interest in architectural space.

Between 2003 and 2013, Beekman lived in Berlin and created a series of paintings titled The Capsular Society (De Capsulaire Beschaving), a term derived from the Belgian philosopher Lieven de Cauter (1959). This is a reflection on the Western condition - moving between offices, shopping malls, airports and train stations and occupying disconnected bubbles which create a lack of interaction and ultimately cause us to retreat further into the perceived safety of solitude. Beekman painted panoramic scenes of stock exchanges, supermarkets and other architectural spaces, without depicting people. 

Beekman’s most recent series titled Symbiosis is about the painters who have inspired him most: influences ranging from Jasper Johns to Max Beckmann, Pablo Picasso and Max Ernst. He incorporates elements of these artists’ oeuvres into his own new bold and colorful paintings, overflowing with both material and visual content. While previous works dealt with themes of a dystopian society in Beekman’s visions of fragmented architectonical structures, this new body of work is part of an ongoing series depicting whole and complete environments celebrating the act of painting itself.

Today, Western society and culture sit in a difficult and unpredictable place, with politics that seem unable to formulate adequate answers to economical, geopolitical, and ecological problems. Beekman feels the urgency to emphasise these ideas now, seeking an antidote to today’s conservative and radical tendencies that threaten treasured cultural achievements.

Tjebbe Beekman (b. 1972 in Leiden, NL) attended the KABK: Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (NL) from 1993 to 1997, followed by the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (NL) from 2003 to 2004. Awards and nominations include the Theo Wolvecamp Prize (NL), Buning Brongers Prize (NL), and the Royal Painting Prize (NL). Beekman’s recent exhibitions include: Tetris, GRIMM, New York, NY (US); Symbiosis: Virtues, GRIMM, Amsterdam (NL); Reflections beyond the Surface, Akzo Nobel Art Foundation, Amsterdam (NL) and Symbiosis, GRIMM, New York, NY (US).

Beekman’s work can be found in various public, private and institutional collections including Aedes Art Collection, Amsterdam (NL); ABN Amro Art Collection, Amsterdam (NL); AkzoNobel Art Foundation, Amsterdam (NL); De Nederlandsche Bank, Amsterdam (NL); Straus Family Collection, New York, NY (US); THE EKARD COLLECTION; Collection De Heus-Zomer, Barneveld (NL); The Hort Family Collection, New York, NY (US); ING Art Collection, Amsterdam (NL); Kunstmuseum, The Hague (NL); Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar (NL); Sanders Collection (NL); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL); Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam (NL); Straus Family Collection, Peerskill, NY (US).