Albert Zwaan paints urban landscapes. Desolate-looking buildings, surrounded by a lush landscape or abstract, decorative patterns. Landscapes without any people in them. For Zwaan, painting is all about the proper proportions: the contrasts and harmonies between the various colours, the forms and use of paint are all reconsidered with every new canvas. Zwaan has a striking palette in which soft, pastel shades are dominant. Colours reminiscent of cartoons, graffiti, and weathered paint in old shipyards. In Berlin he saw gray East German GDR flats that were painted over in pastel shades in an attempt to give them a softer look. Or maybe he simply uses these colours because he likes them.
While painting, Zwaan listens to electronic music: ambient, minimal, German avant-garde. Its energy perfectly matches his painting; he combines images the way a DJ samples sound fragments. He also draws from art history: the expressionist touch of Francesco Goya and El Greco, the resplendent clouds of Philip Koninck; they are mixed with stills from commercials, images from shop windows and logos.
In his teenage years, Zwaan used to be a graffiti artist. He felt at home at the abandoned marshalling yards with concrete sound walls, where he walked around at night with his bag of spray cans. Even now, as a painter, he has a sharp eye for the beauty of the city fringes. Albert Zwaan transforms the gritty post-industrial urban environment into a friendly coloured dream world.