Jan van der Ploeg is well-known for his distinctive brand of lively pop-abstraction. He predominantly works between large-scale wall paintings, smaller paintings on canvas and board, and print editions. Geometric patterns that often bring optical illusion into play have become increasingly synonymous with his practice. This and his use of recurring motifs, knowingly nod to earlier art movements—Minimalism, De Stijl, Op Art. Piet Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg and Richard Artschwager have been influential, and so too has New Zealand’s Gordon Walters. First emerging in his practice in the nineties, the ‘grip’ motif, a rectangle with rounded corners—picture the punched-out handles of a banana box—is now intertwined with his work. Some Walters energy is present in these works in the repeated simple geometric elements, stacked compositions, and Van der Ploeg’s precision and dynamism. His work levels the hierarchy of visual forms—he encourages a reading of abstraction that doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but instead references and is connected to the real world. And so he appropriates his motifs and forms from sources such as industrial packaging and design (the banana box handles), band logos (Black Flag), and even dingbat symbols. Another dominant motif is a pinched pill shape, or teardrop, that is also reminiscent of the flippers in a pinball game. Painted in acrylic, Van der Ploeg investigates positive and negative relationships accompanied by an expansive colour palette that feels intuitive, purposefully fun: sweet pastels and pops of bright yellow, red, blue; the lights in the pinball machine illuminated and ringing.
Jan van der Ploeg (b. 1959, Amsterdam, Netherlands) lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He has had a longstanding relationship with New Zealand and Australia, regularly exhibiting in both countries since the mid-nineties. His work continues to be exhibited extensively across Europe, North America and Oceania. Institutional highlights include: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; MoMA PS1, New York; Ludwig Forum for International Art, Aachen; Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel; Museum for Concrete Art, Ingolstadt; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. His work is also represented in major public, corporate and private collections in Europe and Australasia, including: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Kunstmuseum Den Haag, Netherlands; Daimler Contemporary Berlin; Christchurch Art Gallery; Dunedin Public Art Gallery; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; and The Chartwell Collection, Auckland.