April, 2014--Groep Expositie bij Kunsthuis Secretarie, Meppel
By Patrick

Artist's Statement

As a foreigner, and a non-European at that, I am very aware of 'borders.'
I confront all kinds of them every day: physical borders, cultural borders and, most daunting, language borders.

Although this cautions, confines and occasionally frustrates me, it also fascinates and frees me. Sometimes, that's what borders do.

The 'Borders' Theme

Each of my works in this exhibition presents a spatial interpretation
of a situation, condition or feeling that, as a foreigner, I might confront
on any given day...my personal borders, if you will.

The works, then, interpret such concepts as isolation, transitioning, participation, and so on.

Table Display Text

Just as I have chosen to cross borders
into another land,
another culture,
another language...
Every day that I paint, I choose to cross borders
into other ways to see, to do, to say—
to 'places' that I haven't been before.

Sometimes, the crossing is unsuccessful
and I remain where I started.
But still, left to try another day. 


May, 2013--Scala Meppel Group Exhibit
By Patrick—Artist's statement for the exhibit

Four paintings: Essence Nr 1 thru Nr 4

For many artists, nature is a stimulus, an inspiration and a readily-available subject. No less for me.

What I find forever fascinating in art is the ability of simple, abstracted forms to convey the essence of the complex. And what is more complex than nature?

In this series of paintings, I have attempted to create a visual 'shorthand'
for a range of natural forms—in this case, from the plant world. Each of the resulting compositions falls midway between barely-figurative and purely abstract. Each is an essence

Hopefully, by slanting the viewer’s perspective toward: 'I think it’s a forest—but it wouldn’t have to be,' I have helped him/her to appreciate the form (shape, color, line, texture) for what it is: form!

June, 2009--The Holland Times
By John Marriott

AMSTERDAM— Drenthe is, in Dutch terms, a fairly remote province, but to hear western Dutch folk rhapsodize about it as if it were a far-flung wilderness is comical indeed. Space there certainly is, but, were you to hurl a stone at random, you would almost certainly hit a building. The West Highlands or the Mid West it is not.

Dotted throughout with farms and conservative by nature, Drenthe has nonetheless exerted its pull on individual, quirky and alternative sorts, many of whom have fled the packed city life of the West. Not all of them hug the trees. Yet it is still quite a surprise to find, living plump in the middle of a Drenthe forest (whose trees he doesn't hug), a painter from Chicago, particularly one whose work flows with suggestions of Constructivism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Graffiti.

Patrick Koeller, who was in the States a graphic designer and art director, gave himself full-time to painting after arriving in Holland six years ago. His early work was figurative, if slightly impressionistic (such as the compelling painting which evokes the busyness of Dresden Station), while the art which followed was already part abstract. Now, as you can see and savour at his current exhibition, Koeller has opted for full abstraction, which naturally taps into his lengthy career as a designer. However, as is clear from, for example, Letters with Black and Green, there is a resonance, a depth, which means he produces art, not design, and he has finally arrived at his planned destination: 'I find non-figurative painting more intriguing, and I was aiming for abstract all along. I really wanted to do something new, to challenge myself, to stand outside my comfort zone. I would describe my approach as planned spontaneity. Yet what I now do doesn't negate working from subject matter.'

In Vertical Landscape, although it is tempting to interpret the purple and black blobs, along with what resemble piano keys, as two individuals united by music, Koeller insists that the only meaning is the visual experience itself. In his work, which skilfully orchestrates both harmony and contrast, the form is indeed the content. So, Chicago is now in Amsterdam, at the Funen Art Gallery until 20 June.

20 May, 2009--
By Patrick—Artist's statement for the exhibit

Orchestration of contrasts, ambiguity of space

What intrigues me most about this particular collage approach is the challenge to orchestrate such a multitude of harmonies and contrasts (dark/light, pure/diluted, warm/cool, hard/soft, precise/imprecise, rough/smooth, large/small, etc) which, together, result in a deliciously ambiguous—thus, ever-interesting—space.

Form becomes the content
The content of these paintings, as with non-figurative art in general, is the form itself. Generally, (the only exception to-date being Nr 211, "Pop Monologue") there is no intended meaning or representation beyond the visual experience of the painting. No political, social or commercial statement. No association made to any specific object or being.

And where letterforms occur, they are employed for simply the shapes or textures they provide and the roles they play in the total composition.

I can see in my current paintings a relationship to at least four historical trends, movements or styles . . .

Abstract expressionism
The movement developed in America in the 1940s that tended toward large spontaneously- and energetically-painted canvases—most often purely abstract in approach—and believed generally to draw from and release the creativity of the artist’s unconscious mind. In Europe, a similar approach was taken by the Cobra group.

The nonrepresentational (non-figurative) trend in art developed in Russia in the early 20th century, characterized chiefly by a severely formal organization of basic elements, a relatively minimal space, and the employment of modern industrial processes and materials. Derived from Cubism and Futurism, its aims and ideals have been used by artists through to the present.

The art movement of the 1950s and 60s which borrowed, mocked or glorified aspects of popular culture—including cultural icons, industrial materials and commercial art images, messages or artifacts.

The often youth-executed, sometimes politically-oriented, street art associated with symbols, marks or lettering applied over walls or posted advertisements—including layers of paper removed to reveal earlier layers.

14 May, 2008--Westervelder Wolder
By Gemeente De Wolden

ZUIDWOLDE— During the months of May and June, American artist Patrick Koeller, a resident of Koekange, is exhibiting a collection of his paintings in the Municipal Hall. The collection, themed ‘Looking Back,’ gives an insight into his artistic development since his arrival in The Netherlands in 2003.

Patrick, who worked in the graphic design and advertising world in Chicago and Kansas City, moved to Koekange with his wife. Here he concentrates on his painting.

From Chicago to Koekange was obviously a tremendous change--from a city of millions to a rural environment. But the quiet and tranquil beauty of the farmlands, forest and heather have great appeal to him. Koeller: ‘I receive much inspiration in this province of Drenthe. Sometimes it is the harmony and other times it is the contrasts that I find so fascinating.’

His work also reflects that his foreign travels have stimulated his creativity. The works in the exhibition vary from semi-realistic to very abstract images—in which form, line, color and composition become the subject.

The painting exhibition continues until 2 July during the office hours of the Municipal Hall: Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30am until 4:30pm and Friday from 8:30am until 1:30pm.

12 April, 2008--
By Patrick

Over the past couple of years, I have often made paintings that come about through incorporating an earlier painting into a new work. By only partially painting over the original work—thus allowing an amount of 'show-through'—some shapes, lines and/or colors from the original painting become part of the new composition. In the process, additional 'accidents' occur that can have a significant impact on how a painting evolves and concludes.

The technique requires a good measure of control and patience. It is, in fact, central that unrecognizable or interestingly ambiguous elements—sometimes even confusing to the viewer—finally combine to yield an integrated new painting.

8 September, 2006--Meppeler Courant
Artist Patrick Koeller finds relaxation in Koekange
By Peter Nefkens

MARTERHAAR—"The learning process never stops." The eyes of Patrick Koeller show passion when he speaks. The American native emphasizes his words when he continues his story: "Otherwise you might as well quit and do something else." He strives to continue to develop... In his case, to paint more and more abstract.

At age 60, Patrick has had a long career in graphic design and advertising. He has won awards and earned a solid reputation in those fields. Still, in 2003 he decided to move to The Netherlands with his wife, Wilhelmina Prins. To be exact, to the countryside of the province Drenthe where they own a vacation home in the Marterhaar recreation development. They arrived just in time before a local regulation determined that new owners would not be allowed to live there permanently. Patrick and Wilhelmina were fortunate and continue to enjoy living there. "We bought the house through the internet, without having seen it," Patrick laughs.

Working hard
Wilhelmina and Patrick met more than 26 years ago. She worked at the Netherlands Consulate General in Chicago and lived in the U.S. since 1961. Later they started Prins-Koeller, a communication, advertising and design business. A brochure from those days shows names of clients such as Uncle Ben's, McDonnell Douglas, Sheraton Royal Hotel and Kimberly-Clark.

Patrick also taught at Western Michigan University, but after so many years of hard work the time came to enjoy some rest. Because at an earlier time they had already spent a few months at Marterhaar where the surroundings enchanted them, they left a very busy America for the pastoral Drenthe. Only after his arrival in Holland did Patrick immerse himself completely in painting. To him, it didn't go fast enough, because the required Dutch integration classes allowed him only limited time to hone his talent and skills. "That was a painful period," he reflects. He studied some with Clive Miller in Meppel.

At a young age Patrick had already become aware of his creative leanings. He wanted to become a "commercial artist" but things went differently. As a 20-year old he discovered graphic design. "Here in the Netherlands one decides rather early about a future job direction, in the U.S. that happens a bit later," he compares. Patrick completed his university studies and earned a Masters degree.

Family connections
"It is beautiful and quiet here, a small paradise," says Patrick enthusiastically when asked what led him to Marterhaar. "A beautiful contrast to Chicago," Wilhelmina calls out from across the room. Patrick continues: "Through family connections we spent a few months here in 2002. We still needed to return to the U.S. to take care of various things. Yes, we loved Drenthe and were making friends. Furthermore, for an artist it is a pleasant area to gain inspiration. But I paint more than nature."

To illustrate, he shows an abstract painting of a number of houses along the river Moldau near Prague. Sketched from a moving train and interpreted at home from the rough sketch and vague memories. "I often do that, I start with a composition. I try then to paint more spontaneously and abstract. I try not to 'overthink.'

I've always drawn well and seeing details is no problem. What is a problem is to erase those details from my thinking when I paint." Patrick shows Prague houses where details are mostly lacking, eliminated or ignored and where the colors have been added later. "I can paint you exactly as you are, but that is boring," he tells the reporter.

Hard to let go
Patrick slowly increased the production of his works: in the beginning ten paintings over the course of a couple of months, over the past two years some 130 pieces. Some of them eventually do not pass his own critical standard and are painted over. Thus far, he likes to hold on to his paintings. "Sometimes I find it difficult to let go of them. Only lately have I considered selling work. That is fairly recent. My life doesn't depend on it," according to Patrick.

He has certainly had to think hard about setting prices for his paintings. He generally finds other people's painting prices rather high, making it hard to price his own work. "It all depends on how someone values it. I do my best to charge an honest price in relation to the quality." Most of his works are about 60 x 80 or 50 x 70 centimeters, but he would like to transition to larger pieces. The limited space in his studio as well as transportation issues are factors when the sizes of paintings increase. "And, people need to have the space to hang such large paintings. Often, people here are afraid to hang large paintings on their walls. But we love large paintings."