The Immaterial Dream: An Interview With Daan Noppen

Recently we sat down, via the internet, with Dutch artist Daan Noppen and talked with him about his summer in Mexico. Noppen traveled with his fellow creatives Daniel Martin and Santiago Pani who embarked on the 2019 El Pez Soluble Art Residency.

His work has a cinematic beauty, that captures our minds, depicted with the most sensitive of pencil or brush strokes. We chased him down again, to talk with him about his own work, and to delve into the refined mystery of his imagery.

Daan Noppen with his artwork

To start with, in his own words, he tells us about how he got started and where it has taken him.

I was born in Arnhem in the Netherlands, but my parents soon moved to Wijk bij Duurstede. A small provincial village where not much is going on. I remember always drawing when I was young, but I kind of lost sight of it for a while. My parents stimulated me a lot, but no one really had a background in art. I ended up studying design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven(The Netherlands), where I picked up drawing again.

I have worked in the applied arts for quite some time first. I had a design studio for a while, and I worked in film and advertising during that period. My background in film and design is still very apparent in my work, Especially in my use of color, I guess. But also the cinematic style of photography is something that is very dominant in my drawings and paintings. I use the same kind of lighting for my drawings still as I did when working on film projects. Photography, as a medium turned into the sketching phase in my work process. For me, it helps me to develop an idea further into a story or a world which later transfer to the canvas where they find their full form.

Currently, my medium is very focused on drawing and painting or a mix.
Most of my skills in drawing and painting I learned by just doing and looking at the work of other artists.

Things hitting off with my art started in the Instagram space, which made a big impact on my work in many ways. I suddenly started selling work in Mexico, the US, and the UK. Some of those people that started buying a print have become collectors and own multiple works.


Daan Noppen red drawing

Daan Noppen drawing in progress
If you just look at his works, they are very academic in style, but they are filled with unfamiliar structures and forms (these geometric shapes) that are rendered into the same realm as the academic components (anatomy, portraits birds, bookshelves). It feels as though he is trying to communicate something that is far beyond the anatomy of form with the injection of these structures, at this point, we can only speculate. So let’s ask him!

Daan Noppen geometric portrait art

Daan Noppen art studio

Could you discuss any insight into why these elements are included? Could you then break down the idea above in one of your drawings, how does this work in ‘Gauge’ 2015?

Science plays a big role in my work. But for me, it always has to be about human emotions.
I rather want these ideas to be a vehicle, to magnify the emotions that the characters express in my drawings. The geometry you see in my work visually represents higher dimensions that we normally don’t register as a physical entity, like time, for example. But for me, it is not important that people that see my work understand that. Though this language gives me the opportunity to introduce extra layers of narrative in the image.

Daan Noppen blue nude drawing

Noppen’s installation work seems to be pulled from the geometric forms of your drawings. Taking the geometric elements seen in his paintings and drawings and built into our physical three-dimensional world.

Daan Noppen surreal art

Daan Noppen pop surreal figure drawing

Daan Noppen surreal portrait art

Daan Noppen studio

Daan Noppen realistic drawing

Do the subjects relate to your drawings, or do you feel they are a significant departure even though they are influenced by your drawing style? Is there something you are trying to discuss that doesn’t work in drawing and required installation to solve this?

It feels like a normal way of working, I guess this comes from my background of working in film. They are props, really. So I create objects that I use for the shoots I do with people to develop ideas for my drawings. Introducing these objects in the final exhibition of the drawings creates a small universe, where the viewer is even more pulled into the world I am trying to create. Again I also play with dimensions here again. The objects exist in the two-dimensional space of the drawings and painting but also in the three-dimensional space where it has a different meaning.

Daan Noppen geometric art

So, what does this all mean? Well, let me wildly speculate, and you can decide if I’m full of it. Noppen is playing with the immaterial world, things we can’t see or conceptualize well, like time. He is giving space and form to the immaterial in his works, combining rudimentary geometric shapes to build physical, the immaterial elements and realms. But these forms are always featured in interaction with a human form. Which I speculate are a depiction of a universe that one can engage with our senses the immaterial, seeing time or even picking up gravity. With this, Noppen’s is engaging with the physics of the world, ideas that can often only be conceptualized but not held in one’s hand to watch twist or turn, to feel the weight of, or even to smell. In Noppen’s universe, we get to see what they might look like.


Daan Noppen Social Media Accounts

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram 

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