Aldo van den Broek
Born 1985 in Delft, the Netherlands
living and working in
The Netherlands
 Artist, painter / sculptor

Aldo van den Broek (1985) collects memories that show us how we interact with each other. Life is a collection of memories, which are reflected in his paintings, sculptures and reliefs made of mainly used materials. He uses objects found on the street such as cardboard, iron and wood. Van den Broek shows the beautiful and dark moods of the present time. He draws on personal experiences gained from his stays in Berlin, Tbilisi, New York, Tokyo and Siberia and on historical references. His work is raw and process-oriented and shows universal emotions such as fear, love and joy. They are layered collages of how life goes. Who do we spend our time with?

Text: Jelmer Wijnstroom (curator), 2022

In every dream home a heartache (museumtext Rijksmuseum Twenthe)

So Aldo is at the door in his Mercedes/Jeep/On horseback.
He rings the doorbell persistently and loudly. He calls out through the intercom: ‘Hey, baby, you coming?’
If you ask him, where are we going? he’ll quote Richard Brautigan.
‘Baby,’ he says. ‘Let’s pretend my mind is a taxi, and suddenly you are riding in it.’

So we’re riding in the taxi. He’s said to the taxi driver: ‘It’s good for your business that I’m riding with you.’ The taxi driver nods. Aldo opens the window, lights a cigarette. He points at a building. ‘I jumped off that building once,’ he says. He speaks about it animatedly and leans forward a little. Cigarette smoke fills the vehicle. ‘There’s no point in doubting me,’ he says. ‘Anything that can happen, can happen.’

‘Baby,’ he says, ‘I’m sad.’
The reason for his sadness: everything disappears.
The reason for his sadness: he needs to move himself away from the places in which others remain.  
‘Hit the gas,’ he says to the taxi driver. ‘And drop me off someplace you think is worth carrying meaning.’

The taxi driver stops abruptly and free of charge at the castle/a bridal suite/ the madhouse/a pottery/ a piece of fallow land/the woods. He presses a piece of paper into Aldo’s hands. ‘Call me if you need me.’
Aldo calls him straight away after he gets out the car. No answer. He then calls me. He calls me a lot, even though he knows I never pick up either. I call back sometimes, but we keep missing each other’s calls. We’re never really in each other’s lives actually. ‘No one’s ever really in your life, right?’ he says. He fills up my voicemail, always sounds drunk, even if its thirty cans of non-alcoholic beer he’s drinking. He has so many stories to tell he forgets his own.
One day I happen to answer my phone. ‘What are you doing?’ I ask.
‘Turning things around,’ he answers.

So he draws his girlfriend. He draws his children, his dog, the places he left behind. His girlfriend is tired when she gets home from work. She doesn’t feel like posing for him. She wants him to look at her without a purpose, for him to just be there. They all want that. His children, his dog, the places he left behind.

Michael Goldman wrote: ‘When the muse comes she doesn’t tell you to write; / She says stand up for a moment, I want to show you something, go and stand over there.’ 

One morning he wakes up in Amsterdam/Tokyo/Berlin/London/Siberia/Antwerp/New York. It will probably have been in a station. It will probably have been in a place between arrival and departure. He can’t remember because of the drink. All the small panels he carried in his pockets to make studies of what he sees (in order to be there) have disappeared. Everything seems to have disappeared. Lost perhaps. Death resides in him. To make it right with himself and with the world, he steals a dog. He says: ‘I never steal anything, I only borrow.’ ‘And sometimes,’ he says, ‘something or someone just wants to go with you’. The dog chose him at a time when they needed each other, he simply followed him. Whenever he forgets the dog in a parking lot, at a party or at the sea, the animal will quietly wait to be picked up.
He borrowed the dog and quit drinking. That changed his work. Work and life adapt to each other naturally. They move alongside one another, following each other, like him and the dog.

That’s the kind of girl I want.

Incoming: Voicemail: Aldo van den Broek:
‘I only eat raw shit now. So I thought: I’ll buy a salmon. I’d rather have caught it myself, but that’s not an option in Amsterdam. So I buy a salmon. With what’s left of my money. I call my girlfriend and say: I bought you a salmon. When she’s at my door I slap her in the face with the salmon. What the fuck are you doing? she says. I’m marinating the salmon, I say. I cut the salmon into thin slices on a Japanese chopping board. I’d rather slap her in the face with the raw fish, but you know I’m a feminist. So I eat the slices of salmon off her pussy really slowly. I watch the colour combination and think of raw meat and sex and I know: this is what I do.’

The next day he cooks all the leftover fish for one of the male models posing for him.
The model gifts him a horse in exchange for a piece of art.
Model: ‘I thought: this cowboy needs a horse.’

To surprise his children he harnesses the horse and makes a trip to Berlin. The horse awaits the children in front of school, foaming at the mouth. Because Aldo doesn’t have a house or a stable, he takes both the children and the horse back to a hotel room in the centre of the city. The children think they’re dreaming, that they’re in a movie. Later they’ll say: my father could make anything, but it wasn’t all that is was made out to be.

One of the 365 postcards sent to his children:
I’m here and thinking of you. The horse is sick, but as soon as he’s better we’ll fly out to you.

After the trip to Berlin the horse wouldn’t stop foaming at the mouth. It was something in his head, it would be an agonizing ending, the vet said. Aldo drove out to the sea with the horse, without a saddle. They looked at each other and understood each other. The horse knew too that it couldn’t be saved. ‘Walk into the sea, dear boy,’ Aldo said. ‘It will be a more gentle death.’ The horse calmly walked into the sea, Aldo watched him from the beach until he had vanished from sight. The animal was able to swim for quite a while, but no one beats the sea.

Aldo is at the door, shaking. ‘Baby,’ he says. ‘The taxi ride is going all wrong, it has to stop. I think I need to find a place to stay for a while.’ Whether he can stay in my attic room. ‘I brought you some steak tartar, I mean nothing sexual by it or anything.’ He’s on my sofa, smoking. Not much later he’s left again. He got a call from one of the guys he drew. Whether he’d like to house sit a villa in Tokyo. He gets up and crushes a (non-alcoholic) can of beer to a pulp. ‘If I wanted to, I’d sell this can, but I’ll let you have it.’

Nothing you make stands on its own. Not you, not children, not art. It’s always someone else’s, too. Maybe it’s even primarily someone else’s. You could say Aldo wants to exist, but eventually everything he does traces back to his wish to disappear. The disappearing is a subconscious process, but is present everywhere. And so the disappearing will ironically enough prove he is alive. (I tell Aldo this when he asks me how I see him)
‘Are you serious, is that how you see me?’
‘How would you describe yourself?’
‘A bad end story,’ he says.

His phone rings. It’s the taxi driver. ‘I’m coming to pick you up,’ the man says. ‘It’s been long enough. It’s time for you to go and check out someplace else now.’
‘Yes,’ says Aldo. ‘I’m all set. Let’s go.’

Text: Maartje Wortel (novelist), 2020

Translation: Isadora Goudsblom

Recurring themes in Aldo van den Broek work are history, underground, punk and romanticism. They characterize the world where he lets architecture and people meet. He is fascinated by the urge of people to strive for safety and freedom simultaneously and the deconstruction that usually follows. Travels and experiences bring valuable inspiration to his work. His researches brought him to Berlin and the post-communistic suburbs of Belgrade and Tbilisi.

Text: Frederik Schampers (director, Galeria Nara Roesler), 2014