Kees de Goede

Koog aan de Zaan NL 1954, lives and works in Amsterdam

The oeuvre of Kees de Goede is not a succession of separate incidents; it has developed by means of series, through which De Goede manages to create great dynamics despite the confinement to a number of visual elements. In the stylization of his forms (which often hover between the geometric and the organic) and in the precise development of materials and color, one can see a constructive way of working. Each work is the result of meticulous considerations.

In De Goede’s early work the image surface and the stretcher frame were manipulated into very material and visually influential factors. His fragile works from the late seventies consist, for instance, of thin carriers of rice paper, stretched across bamboo; the joints of the bamboo determined the places at which the geometric motifs and lines began. Several years later paintings were stretched over rough constructions of branches. He also hung canvases, like bags, over ‘skeletons’ of branches, thus giving rise to an empty form – a ‘sculpture without flesh’.

Some of these works have undefined, open centers, as though De Goede wishes to encircle a depth whose meaning cannot be articulated. This timeless and motionless vanishing point can also be found in the circular shapes – circles within which other circles are wholly or partially visible – that have begun to play a significant role in his work over the last ten years. This highly abstracted motif is inspired by the imaginary perspective of a ceiling fresco, by the fifteenth-century painter Andrea Mantegna, in which angels peer down, as if from a great height, over a circular railing.

Throughout Untitled (1994-1995) this motif appears both in the positive and in the negative form, or within a succession of irregular circles. An underlying grid of intersecting lines suggests that the forms continue to arise and expand from the focal point of such an intersection. Overlappings and contrasts of dark and light, large and small, emphasize the locations in terms of depth as well. ‘How does the world, the universe, look? And where am I in relation to other things?’ This is how De Goede once phrased the questions that he asks himself while working. Through the process of writing and groping he shows potential constellations, in which ideas such as place and identity are continuously shifting.