One could say that Jeroen Krabbé (Amsterdam – the Netherlands, 1944) was born to be an artist. His grandfather Heinrich Martin Krabbé was a noted painter and member of the ‘Larense School’ at the beginning of the 20th century, his father Maarten Krabbé also dedicated his life to painting and was author of various publications on art education. In 1961 Jeroen Krabbé enrolled as student at the Rietveld Academy of Art in Amsterdam, but switched to Drama School in Amsterdam after the first year of semesters. Where he graduated in 1965. The next decade his performing on stage – and as director – both in theatre and film brought him to meteoric fame as one of Holland’s most succesful and best regarded actors.
Krabbé’s career took an abrupt turn at the height of his acting success in the Netherlands in the late Seventies when he chose to ricochet back to art school where he graduated at the Amsterdam based National Academy of Fine Art in 1981. During his studies, among others guided by the artist Friso ten Holt, he began to discover his own, partial path to abstraction. As Krabbé states: “I try to tackle a landscape by bringing it back to lines, forms and colours. When I stop off at a particular spot, I store the image, formulate the frame and make a ‘slide’ in the back of my head. These images have to filter through my brain, my memory and my feeling to be ‘developed’ later into the painting”. It is Jeroen Krabbé in a very different kind of role: himself, as a fully-fledged artist. In painting Krabbé feels that he comes closest to being himself. At the same time his stage career in the Netherlands jettisoned him to the heady heights of Hollywood. Since then he has appeared in numerous international film productions as actor, as well as being director of various internationally appraised film productions. Krabbé’s prime inspiration as painter has been – as always – the various spectacular locations he has found himself in while shooting films all around the globe. Krabbé makes a point of never travelling without his sketch-book and watercolours. And on long shoots he even takes along his easel, brushes and oilpaints. But also the countryside around Krabbé’s retreat in the province of Overijssel in the Netherlands turns out to be an eternal source of inspiration. As is the landscape in his beloved France, where admired painters as Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne created their masterpieces.
Since 1992 Jeroen Krabbe has been using an Amsterdam studio which once belonged to the famous Dutch impressionist painter G.H. Breitner. Here, he creates his vibrant paintings, often inspired by the many journeys and locations his other, more hectic profession entails. His work demonstrates his succesful pursuit of harmony between arrangement and colour. To appreciate Krabbé’s artistic oeuvre it also helps if you are something of a traveller yourself. The colourful paintings in intense, warm shades undoubtedly speak louder if you have seen, or if you are at least familiar with the atmosphere in places they refer to.