Joel B. Garzoli Fine Art
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Art Notes ~ Kristen van Diggelen

Kristen van Diggelen "Chandelier" 2006



Kristen van Diggelen

When I first saw Kristen's work I was immediately intrigued by her powerful, vibrant, surrealist paintings of tangled foliage and mesmerizing light.
These "Battlescape" paintings are an evolution of traditional landscape imagery, yet are bold and uniquely contemporary images that transcend the landscapes themselves.

As a collector and appreciator or surrealism, I was impressed by her unique and powerful adaptation of that style. She steps beyond realism to create a realm of deep thought and psychological intrigue.

-Joel Garzoli , January, 2013


Kristen van Diggelen received her M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2009 and her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006. Her work has been exhibited nationally at Next, Art Chicago, the New Wright Gallery in Los Angeles, and in San Francisco at Art Engine Gallery, Root Division, Togonon Gallery, SOMArts and The Diego Rivera Gallery. She was awarded the 2007-2009 San Francisco Art Institute Painting Fellowship and was nominated for the Headlands Centre for the Arts Graduate Fellowship in 2009 and the San Francisco Artist Award in 2011. Her work has been reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle (online edition at, 7x7 Magazine (online edition on, Synchronized Chaos (online edition at, Studio Visit Magazine , Volume 16 and The New Fillmore. She currently lives and works in San Francisco.


by Kristen van Diggelen

"Outdoors we are confronted everywhere with wonders. The miraculous is apparently not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. The greatest visionary encounters took place not in temples but in sheep pastures, in the desert, in gardens, in the wilderness, on mountains, on the shores of rivers and in the middle of the sea.

With nature as the holiest of places, my paintings combine the use of landscape painting with Baroque virtuosity and illusion, anthropomorphizing natural elements, to create mysterious, monumentally scaled portraits of a spiritual journey or condition. The path of spiritual growth is often equated with internal struggle or combat between good and evil. I narrate that conflict indirectly, depicting a battleground rather than a battle itself. As sites of pleasure and pain, anxiety and tranquility, these intimate and contemplative “Battlescapes” mirror the human interior where man is constantly both revitalized and victimized by his own psychological surroundings. I use imagery - complex in signification and often steeped with literary, symbolic or historical reference - purposefully to keep secret and/or to reveal narrative.

I look to artists such as Caspar David Friedrich to elicit mood and to explore spirituality through landscape, and Rembrandt for instruction with creating divine light and enchanting darkness. The monumental scale of my work functions within a similar discourse that Mark Rothko used to describe the scale of his larger pictures: '…you are in it, it is not a reducing commanding experience, but one that is human and intimate.' ”


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