“Sometimes I am afraid that we have lost the sense of being part of nature, that we no longer have an eye for its beauty and healing power. In this hectic world where there’s almost no time for contemplation, I hope my paintings add to a sense of connection with the mysterious magnificence and restorative serenity of nature.”
(Dutch, b. 1953)
Johan Abeling paints rich and mysterious landscapes, creating worlds that are at once both highly realistic and dream-like. Abeling grew up in Ter-Apel, a small town in the Netherlands, and has had a life-long fascination with with the emptiness and silence of the Northern European landscape. At the age of 19, Abeling studied at the Academie Minerva, one of the last remaining traditional academies in the Netherlands. In his artwork, he uses a traditional sfumato technique, which consists of applying many overlapping layers of thin paint. This careful application of paint gives his contemporary landscapes their mysterious and enchanting atmosphere. His work reflects the themes of Dutch Imaginary Realism, with minimal subjects and an enigmatic aura.
When discussing his work, Abeling reflects that “My work is about creating an atmosphere, playing with composition and light – the timeless feeling that atmosphere can evoke for me… My paintings have their own personalities, their own stories and emotion. One can also see them as a moment of respite in a turbulent world where there is almost no time for contemplation. But there is also a disorienting quality in the quiet”. This peaceful yet disorienting element gives Abeling’s artwork its enchanting quality, and he accents his landscapes with twisting tree branches and time-worn paths. These hazy scenes shrouded in a delicate layer of fog allow viewers to become immersed in another world.
Abeling’s work can be found within numerous museum collections, including the Drents Museum, Museum Voorlinden, and Museum van Lien. His work has also been featured in many international exhibitions such as “Magic Realism Past Towards Contemporary” at the Museum of Art in Seoul, “The Painters of Minerva” at the Museum Panorama Mesdag in the Hague, and “The Magic of Dutch Realism” at The Pushkin State Museum, Moscow.