Erik's walk discovery
Nowadays Erik Koch devotes his entire life force to his pictorial, creative and poetic research.
For over sixty years, the artist has spent his life following an artistic journey full of encounters and numerous travels. His work is a testament to the sum of creative energy accumulated throughout his career.
Back to the 50s and their vibrant artistic atmosphere. The years following the end of World War II gave rise to new talents, a flow of ideas and an exploration of color, in which shapes and light seemed endless and abstract expressionism reached its peak. Dynamic forces collided on canvas and during animated discussions at the 8th Street Club. Pollock, De Kooning, Hofmann and their peers shook up the artistic scene with their abstract compositions, as they moved further away from a simple depiction of reality and shared their pure, unequalled aesthetic vision.
Meanwhile, Erik was destined for a conventional and honorable career. An only child born in Denmark in 1933, he received a strict education and proved a hard-working pupil throughout his studies. His parents are certain of it: “He will become a dentist.”
To an ordinary future, he preferred the extraordinary.
The young man arrived in America by boat in 1954 after a long journey from Denmark. One of his night school teachers told him that if he really intended to become a painter, he would need to study under Hans Hofmann, one of the most prominent masters in the US at the time. Determined to do so, Erik hitchhiked through the country from California to New York to join Hofmann’s school. His meeting with the master marked a turning point in his artistic exploration. From then on, Erik spent three years immersed in the flourishing artistic world of 1950s New York.
He spent his time between painting and odd jobs. The atmosphere of the Provincetown summer classes fostered creativity, with the students building a community during sessions that encouraged the proliferation of ideas, exchanges, and studio visits between artists. Provincetown was an artistic hub between 1940 and 1970, and still remains a destination marked by its cultural heritage.
Erik had the opportunity of participating in several collective exhibitions in London, New York and Paris between 1965 and 1979.
Between 1975 and 1980 he taught painting, a discipline he was very enthusiastic about. He was successively director of the art program at the New York State University in Tours then, a few years later, taught summer classes at the University of Rhode Island. He also directed the art section at Schiller University in Strasbourg for a year. He continued working on his paintings every day during these busy years.
Erik Koch went with the flow of what, in his eyes, represented the evidence of a freedom essential to his personal development, his relationship with others, to human existence.
For the past thirty years Erik has worked in his studio in Collorgues, a small pleasant village in Languedoc-Roussillon, where the light shines on for long hours in the summertime. His work has been the object of several exhibitions in the Gard region, which boasts a large community of artists and where artistic initiatives are developing.
Erik, the young man who disembarked in NYC in 1954, sometimes expresses his sense of having to face contemporary chaos, but keeps working with tireless conviction and determination.
Now one of the last remaining artists of the second generation of Constructivists, Erik lives and works in the solitude and quiet of his studio, a captive of his insatiable creative desire to research pure plastic poetry.
Mathea Koch, 2015
Text translated by Lucy Pons, 2017