For the people that don’t know you, who is Remko Koopman?
I’m a 39-year old painter and graphic designer from Leiden, The Netherlands, obsessed with industrial architecture, machinery, electronic music and science-fiction. I started writing graffiti in 1987, a period in time which is now classified as the pioneering days of the Dutch graffiti-culture. I represent the DSK crew, Dope Style Kings. Nuff said about this topic. Let me just state that my “graffiti-career” had a huge influence on my development as a contemporary visual artist but I like to keep those things separate from each other.
How would you describe your work?
I completed a course of study at the KABK (Royal Academy of Art, The Hague) in 1998 and became a professional graphic designer operating under the name of Studio Booyabase. Besides that I’m a autonomic visual artist. I create murals and do a lot of work on canvas. My artwork is characterized by a highly technical complex visual identity in which I combine mechanical elements with repetitive graphic shapes. This way I’ve generated a recognizable personal style often including perspective distortion and a sinister clair-obscur effect. Most of my work is created in freestyle modus ‘on the spot’. I hardly ever do any sketching. For me it is a challenge and an adventure to just stare at a blank wall or canvas and let my mood of the moment take charge. A nice example of this is a mural I painted in the Intergalactic FM studio in The Hague. This freestyle creation was captured on film by DJ I-F for his show “The Bottemless Pit”, check it out!
What influenced you to be a artist?
I was this 5 year old autistic kid obsessed with drawing and a hunger for adventure… that’s where it all started and I’ve never looked back since. My whole life has been centered around creative expression and creation. Without that “relieve valve” I would probably be in jail or a drug addict, haha!
For more background info on my work check my website www.remkokoopman.nl.
What’s your take on graffiti art in galleries?
Pure graffiti should not be in art galleries… call me a purist, but in my opinion that stuff should be done in the streets at nighttime. What I do like are artists with a background in graffiti or street art with enough talent to create a personal hybrid between their street work and other disciplines such as graphic design, installation art and traditional painting. I love the Graffuturism movement and the infiltration of these kind of artists in the high-end art world. In Holland I consider Boris DELTA Tellegen, ZEDZ, Super A and EROSIE the masters in this field. They keep inspiring me to get to that next level.
What’s up with Booyabase?
Booyabase was an art collective founded in 2006 by me and artist Tamme de Boer from Zwolle. As a duo we worked on a lot of projects together. In April 2014 we decided to quit, the chemistry just wasn’t there anymore. We now operate under our birth names in our own comfort zone.
When will you be back in Amsterdam?
My Amsterdam period lay between 1999 and 2008 when I was an employee at design office Cascade. That was the period in which I made the book Amsterdam Graffiti: The Battle of Waterloo together with Marcel van Tiggelen and Hein Sonnemans. I love that time in Amsterdam, such good memories! After that I moved to The Hague for seven years and in 2013 I returned to Leiden again. I’m not really into city marketing, I consider the whole Randstad as one big metropolitan area. I hope to get accepted for a residency at the famous Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten someday, that will mark my return to Amsterdam.
What does the future hold for Remko Koopman?
Keep pushing boundaries and expanding the limits of my skills. I’ve now had my first exposure in a recognized museum, it tastes like more. In a couple of weeks some new works will be in an expo at Gallery Majke Hüsstege, gallery of the year 2014. Something I’m very proud of. I hope this will set off a working relationship that will continue in the future. I’m turning 40 in October, finally reaching adulthood. It feels like stepping into a new world, haha!