Marco Kooiman is truly a man of the world. Born in Zimbabwe, Africa to an Italian mother and Dutch father, raised in New Brunswick Canada, holidaying in Abruzzo Italy, living between The Netherlands and Italy before finally settling in Rome – all these places were important layovers on his road to destination POP.
Encouraged by his architect mother from the age of seven to make accurate drawings of still-lifes, he painted landscapes and portraits in the academic tradition through his adolescence before a fateful day in his early twenties when he discovered a pile of discarded comics from the 70s near the family home in Abruzzo.
He saw a direct correlation in the musculature and perspective of Superman, Spiderman and Captain America to the figures of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bernini and the ancient Greeks. What was revelatory to him was the explosion of color used in this context.
He went back and studied Fauves such as Matisse and Gaugin with this in mind and made a delightful pastoral series exploring a vast palette of colors. Feeling dissatisfied with this genre after many successful sales, he came to the Grand Master Pop Andy Warhol.
From here, he started to see the world through Warholian eyes. Every mass-produced item suddenly carried new significance, and the subject matter and blocks of color in his work became more and more direct and saturated.
Marilyns, Elvises, Audreys and Lizs followed leading to classic Italian icons like Vespas, Fiat 500s, Cinzano signs and Roman beach and street scenes but again, he was dissatisfied and took a break from painting altogether.
After a years’ sabbatical, he took up his brushes and began the grueling process of looking within for a new expression which was highly personal. The result is ‘Beauty and the Beast’, the start of a new maturity and complexity in Marco’s work.
He has taken the Pop lexicon to a new level which pastiches The Hulk’ of cartoon culture with ‘Venus’ from the Renaissance masterpiece by Botticelli.
It would be easy to be seduced by the glorious color combinations of turquoise, mauve, green, pink and acid yellow and not see the depth of meaning in the composition. What Marco is conveying through the spent figure of the Hulk with Venus surfing him ashore is the fallen nature of patriarchy and all it’s obvious show of masculine strength. He sees this in his own powerlessness in the face of beauty and feminine strength, but also in the debilitation of the cultures and economies of the traditional world giants.
This is only the beginning of what will be a rich and interesting new body of work.