About Marianne Aartsen
Marianne Aartsen has studied at the following institutions:
* The Stadsacademie of Visual Arts Maastricht 1973–1978
* Jan van Eyck Academy 1978–1980 Maastricht, the Netherlands.
The Jan van Eyckacademy is a Post-Academic Institute for Research and Production, Fine Art, Design, Theory.
Drawing and painting was Marianne Aartsen’s favourite occupation as a child. Already when young she knew that she wanted to develop this interest further. She went to the Stadsacademie Maastricht, where she studied graphic art, since the technique interested her, as well as art history. She did not study painting, since she found the instruction then given in painting there to be rather authoritative.
At the Jan van Eyck Academy she developed further as an artist by studying the complex technique of lithography (drawing directly on stone), art-theory and philsophy and nature of materials. It was only after having studied here that she began to paint, making use of the comprehensive knowledge of materials and theoretical knowledge that she had acquired.
Characteristic of her working method is that without first making a draft, she paints directly onto panels or linen, always using oils. In layers, but in a direct manner. She often works on a painting for a long while – sometimes years – but there is always transparency and space in her work. Her work has materiality, yet at the same time there is something immaterial about it.
A number of years later she started to do sculpturing alongside her painting. In bronze. The sculptures were directly composed in wax, using a hollow form. This is highly risky, since no clay or plaster model is made in advance. Afterwards, it is cast in bronze, which means you can experience directness and traces of the work process in her sculptures. For many years now she has also occasionally worked with poets. This resulted in 1998 in the book Hazenveld (Hare’s Field, published by Philip Elchers, at her exhibition Hazenveld/Campus Leporarius) where 10 poets each wrote a poem based on a painting she had done. She sees her whole work as a large, continuous whole, with all the facets in it of the individual works. For this reason, she has made editions in which she places the works in a series and links them with each other.
Two books were published with visual art, alongside with poetry by Eva Gerlach. For the first, Solstitium (an initiative of the publisher, Jo Peeters), Aartsen supplied the art to accompany a series of new poems; for the second, Jaagpad, Gerlach wrote poems to accompany Aartsen’s work. In these books, visual art and text are not aiming to illustrate each other; rather, between the hard covers, two kindred spirits walk together for a stretch. Later, Aartsen began to write herself.
For Marianne Aartsen, the world and her work are more than just painting, sculpturing, lithographs, installations, spatial design, films and poetry. Diverse disciplines and double interpretations are typical of her work. The world that lies behind, the interplay with the actual depiction and the imaginary world that is evoked are for her a lasting source for investigation. An inseparable whole , unmistakably distinctive, throughout her entire oeuvre.
‘Introduction on the occasion of the opening of Marianne Aartsen’s exhibition’
‘Hareborne’, by Emily Ansink, MA
Emily Ansink is director of the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. ‘ My first meeting with the work of Marianne Aartsen dates all the way back from 1994 …Aartsen’s paintings leapt at me from the page … Her literal and metaphorical layers and her implicit suggestiveness of image stayed with me for many hours, even for days after I had seen the work. She has mastered the art of capturing the eye because she knows how to touch the conceptual world of the onlooker. Her paintings, or perhaps rather depictions, never become tedious or superficial. They invite you to muse and contemplate, creating a voyage of dicovery for the onlooker.
What makes Marianne Aartsen’s work so special?
Are you attracted by the expressive use of colour, the concept, the format – or by their very mystery? Is it the choice of themes that intrigues you, or the very technique? Presumably, each one of us would come up with a different answer. And that, in my opinion, is precisely what makes her work so exciting. It is never non-ambiguous and easy, or lazy. You do not see what you see – and the artist offers no explanations.
You recognize themes, such as the hare or the table, but each work – as mentioned – has its own poetry. You allow yourself to be sucked into the picture, but are often thrown back on yourself. This has probably something to do with the way in which she works: the work gradually comes into being during the process. She makes no detailed preliminary studies, the composition is not clearly defined in advance and the technique of working in layers also ensures surprises.
In her bronze statues the process is somewhat different, but there too I cannot escape the impression that the Hare or the girl emerge beneath her hands, without a pre-set plan. You might say that Marianne Aartsen is an intuitive artist, operating on the interface between the figurative and the abstract. The form and the meaning emerge from the work, and not vice versa…
translation by John Irons