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A Bio of the Artist (by the Artist)

MOCA requested Jan Kölling to provide a brief bio to accompany his Brooklyn gallery exhibit. The artist provided as he says a "rough and unpolished" version. But because it is frank, forthcoming and revealing, MOCA decided it was best to present it here in unedited form.

I was born on board of a freighter in the City of Haarlem in the Netherlands, spend the first 6 years on the water travelling through the Netherlands on the freightship of his parents.

After that period wehre every day landscape and cities past by (vision fugitive) the family settled down in the city of Leiden in the west of the Netherlands.

School had to start for Jan and the freedom and vividness I had experienced and got used to in his live "on the water" came abruptly to an end.

I never got used to this "static positioning" and although I would live in the city we ended up for more than 25 years I never realy felt at home there.

Live took his path and brought pretty much the things which were expected; school, streetlife, summer jobs etc.

At the age of 18 I took my first steps towards a creative carreer starting out with "silk-screen" printing, not in the last place to make some money, taking on all kinds of commercial assignments.

Later on, I was about 20 years of age I was in the opportunity to rent a rather big studio space together with some friends of mine. Together we founded the "Stelling Art Group" which should be active on many fronts during a period of 10 years.

They pretty much took me under their wings and I started to paint and create sculpture in a very expressive rather "Art Brut" kind of style. I was fascinated by the materials from the beginning and worked/experimented day and night. I wanted to learn and do it all and was lucky to get so many "private teachings" from the people around me.

A bit later in time we started an Art Gallery in the same building where we had our studio.

The whole thing would last for more than 10 years and during that time we made about one hundred exhibitions with for the biggest part young and unknown Artists. In the end we even started a second Gallery in Germany in the city of Köln with some help from the Dutch Minestry of Culture.

I think it was around the year 1994 that we decided to split up and everybody from the group pretty much went his own way.

I changed cities in 1997 " moved to Utrecht and a rather unhappy period in my life started. It seemed I had to pay the prise for 15 years of quite "intense living".

The so called "professionals" told me I was suffering from a "burn-out" and a serious form depression. I had to start using medication and until this day I still have to use them to find some balance in the days.

During that period I had to stop creating, no inspiration for painting or sculpture making left.

After a period of 3 years I started to manipulate photographic Images on the computer just for the fun of it and to get a share of creative distraction. In the beginning I did not have any serious intentions with my creations but I got slowly "sucked in" to the medium, placed my works on some art-sites. I got some stimulating, positive reactions and decide to move on digital area.

That was about 6 years ago.

The work that is shown in my first digital one man showing here at the MOCA carries a lot ingrediënts from the personal history I tried to desribe here above. Especialy the struggle of the past 12 years seem to keep playing a very important role. The intense connection to the personal environment you experience when you are feeling isolated by illness.

Looking back I get a clear vision on the items that seemed (and seem) to inprison my life and that I'm slowly getting to control: Fear, Anxiety, Feeling Haunted, Restlesness, feeling Displaced, Incompetent etc.....

I now (see) - know that although I didn't intend to create an "Ego-Document" or a form of Self Portrait a lot of the "Items" I mentioned slipped in and played their role to create the works I made over the past 6 years.

I sincerely Hope that the works that will be shown here at MOCA will have their "uplifting quality(s)" for those who will make the effort to visit the showing, and that every now and then it even will remind someone of a work of Art. Thank you!