Smoke Screen

Koen van den Broek


Painting, 210 x 140 cm.
Materials: oil on canvas

Collection: Courtesy Philipp von Rosen Gallery, Keulen.

The serenity emanating from this work takes the viewer for a ride: this is not a sunset. The sun is too high for that. The image refers to both Hollywood action movies, where unbridled violence set the world on fire, and the impact of major fires just outside of Los Angeles, which literally branded the landscape. Van den Broek, who was coincidentally in L.A. when the natural disaster occurred, decided to ignore all safety precautions and drove a Lincoln Continental convertible to the advancing line of fire, where he managed to photograph unique, apocalyptic scenes. The searing heat threw up sand and dust like a smokescreen. It seemed nothing less than a dramatic battlefield. Looking for the link with the legendary ballet Spartacus by Yuri Grigorovich, we soon find out that the uncontrollable nature of the fires symbolizes the lost battle of the gladiators.

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