Born in Rotterdam in 1946, Kolenberg moved to Adelaide with his parents at the age of 6. A lifetime immersed in art has taken him across the globe, working and studying in London and the Netherlands (with a scholarship to study 19th century Dutch art) as a young man.
In every city in which Kolenberg has lived, architectural forms and the interplay of reflected light have fascinated him. He describes walking about town as an obsession and many of his compositions are seen from street level. Kolenberg reads the landscape differently from many other artists. Closely cropped, built forms occupy his entire pictorial space. This is landscape almost without sky, horizon or even land. Depth of field is reduced to the space of urban life – the end of a street, the blank face of a fence. Everywhere the eye is brought up short by the man-made. Somehow, in all of that, Kolenberg lets us breathe.
These essentially humble motifs of houses, rooftops, bins, and even air-conditioning ducts are transformed through a complex process of observation, drawing, and oil on paper studies before arriving at a composition. Working in a high key, with oil paint on a gesso ground the final result has an affinity to fresco, with its attention to surface, texture and opaque colour. This orchestration of subject, surface and design returns our own surroundings to us transformed. Kolenberg’s art constructs a visual harmony, full of air and light, from motifs that most of us would unerringly overlook.
Kolenberg’s work has been collected by NGA, Canberra, State Library of NSW, TMAG, Hobart; Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Orange Regional Gallery and the University of Technology, Sydney. For over twenty years, he held the position of Senior Curator of Australian Prints, Drawings and Watercolours at the Art Gallery of NSW.
We are delighted to launch his first ever exhibition in Melbourne.