‘These portraits for me are a new way to have a closer look at the women that are depicted on my paintings. By creating life size portraits of women who usually only get the space of thumb print, I could spend more time on each of them personally. As a group they show an absolute discomfort, but individually they don’t have much in common. Their not based on specific existing people, and I didn’t use models. They came to existence pretty organically, without sketching or a specific composition. That’s why they’re a bit weird and twisted. Their personality evolved while their faces found a fixed form. I thought a lot about what kept them busy and what kind of life they could be living. With the evolution of their character it became clear to me that each of them had to be dressed completely different. The textile design that was chosen for each woman, is a reflection of their personality and the emotions that where to be found in their faces.’
‘I feel that the more specific and the more personal I make my work, the more universal it gets. Not everyone understands my paintings, but they’re an honest image of my own story. Narrative work always tells a story. That’s exactly what our lives are: stories. In the end they always direct back at themselves if we like it or not. A big part of our feelings we base on experiences we had in the past.’
‘Empathy isn’t always reachable. It doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings, but to be able to feel for someone or something you need a wider understanding of the situation and that usually comes with some more life experience.’
‘I think that self-sustainability is a good thing. If somebody is having a bad influence on your life, you have to get them out of your way. Maybe you can relate to and understand the unfortunate circumstances that brought them in a certain situation, but your empathy isn’t an endless humanitarian source. I accept and respect people as they are and they choices they made, but my personal involvement definitely has its limits. I try to keep a distance to people that emotionally drain me. The best thing is to surround yourself with positive people. I deliberately made choices to keep negative people out of my life.’
‘The work of Louise Bourgeois has had a great influence on my way of looking at the world and the way I look at my own art practice. She’s very open and honest. She made so many very personal works, which have a very deep influence on how I choose to share my experiences. A big number of her works concentrate on extremely traumatic experiences from her youth. I feel empathy for her life and work, because she uses very specific emotions and she can create complete worlds that breathe an intense pathos. She is transforming. It’s like looking through a veil of memories experiencing someone else’s pain and sorrow. What makes her work so moving is the fact that she creates a world to which I want to return to and stay in. It’s every alienating feeling to find comfort in someone else’s pain. Luckily art isn’t always reasonable.
Translated by Rebecca te Boekhorst