Painting with powerful strokes of the brush and using only subtle colours, Hermkens manages to portray various domains within the robust reality of hydraulic engineering. His expressive paintings, lithographs and pen drawings represent the activities of excavators and dredgers, hoisting cranes and numerous ships and pontoons in a world of stone and steel, sand and water. A large wall painting by Hermkens, which is 25 metres long and 6 metres high, is also shown at the exhibition.
Hydraulic engineering has always had a strong appeal on Dutch artists. In 1932 painter Johan Mastenbroek (1875-1945) made drawings and paintings of the construction of the IJsselmeer Dam. The ancient theme of the battle against water is given a new look at the exhibition of work by Hermkens. For the first time ever the technological innovations in hydraulic engineering, the scaling up of dredging material and the size and complexity of large land reclamation projects are portrayed. The Palm Islands, the artificial peninsulas constructed of sand dredged from the bottom of the Persian Gulf on the coast of Dubai, are an example of the reclamation of land, as is the Maasvlakte near Rotterdam and the sand strip for the Hanzelijn near Lelystad; by means of pen drawings Hermkens carefully seeks to find the exact right cut-out or detailed plan of the various locations where Van Oord works.
Jeroen Hermkens (1960) was educated at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten (Academy of Visual Arts) in Utrecht and at the Atelier Lithografique Champfleury in Paris. His paintings and lithographs have regularly been on display both in the Netherlands and abroad. In1996 he was awarded the Dutch Graphic Art Prize for his lithographs. Recently work by Hermkens was exhibited at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht (2007), at gallery Juffermans in Utrecht and at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht (2009). After having been elected Artist of the Year there was a solo presentation of his work at Museum Jan van de Togt in Amstelveen in 2008. His work is included in a large number of art collections of major companies, amongst which that of ING Bank, Rabobank, Shell, Van Bruggen Adviesgroep and Van Lanschot Bankiers.
The works from the exhibition entitled Water Works - Terra Nova were made on the occasion of the parting of Koos van Oord as CEO at Van Oord. To the exhibition a richly illustrated publication on the Koos Van Oord collection entitled Terra Nova is to appear, which will be published at A.W. Bruna and contains accompanying texts by Jeroen Hermkens.