Christian Rex van Minnen

New meets old in absurdist, emotionally-charged portraits.

artist standing and hand finishing monoprint at the studio
artist showing the process of making a monoprint in the studio
artist standing and hand finishing monoprint at the studio – close up
5 images

Christian Rex van Minnen (he/him) was born in 1980 in Rhode Island and lived in numerous US cities such as Denver, Los Angeles and Colorado, before settling in Brooklyn, New York.

Exhibitions

In August 2021, he became the first artist to hold simultaneous exhibitions across NANZUKA’s three Tokyo locations - also representing his Japanese solo show debut!

Did you know?

van Minnen collaborated with directors Justin Carlson and Alex Nicholson to create a short experimental documentary providing a glimpse into his studio practice.

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Practice overview

For Christian Rex van Minnen, painting is an introspective process. His surreal canvases channel the raw chaos of thoughts and emotions into elegantly rendered images. Using oil painting techniques inspired by Renaissance and Dutch masters, van Minnen depicts his subjects with a decadent level of detail. His subjects themselves are, however, far from sublime: deformed faces, garish still lifes and disturbingly contorted bodies. Meanwhile, brightly coloured additions such as rainbows, hearts and gummy sweets reflect the influences of contemporary Surrealist-Pop Art. By playfully clashing with their surroundings, these details add a sense of absurdist humour to his artworks. The results are laced with irony – at once hyper-realistic and nonsensical, beautiful and ugly, historic and contemporary.

At the centre of van Minnen’s practice is his creative process: “the most important thing is painting. It’s not the painting.” While painting, he creates the base layers of his artworks with abstract brush strokes that directly translate his emotions into paint. These brushstrokes allow him to release repressed ideas and feelings through the action of painting itself, expunging inner turmoils of the male psyche in twisted yet humorous characters. Ultimately, van Minnen creates provocative artworks that resist easy readings and demand active engagement from their viewer.

"Fundamentally, I just enjoy seeing what's happening with the paint and following it, testing the limitations."Christian Rex van Minnen