Jacolien de Jong

I was so pleased to be able to speak with renowned Utrecht artist Jacolien de Jong about her life and work. she has a remarkable talent as you can see from the examples below. Her work seems to transcend so many artistic boundaries and is all the more exciting for that.

Jacolien de Jong moved to Utrecht as a student when she was 19 year old in 1979. She studied Art at the Utrecht School of the Arts and graduated 1992, specializing in painting.

She loves to make drawings on paper in mixed media and regularly shows her work at exhibitions. Besides being a creative artist she is also what she calls an interpreneur.

Twenty six years ago she started organizing ‘’painting workshops teambuilding’’ for business organisations. For the last ten years she has also organised creative courses for people in elderly care.

Jacollien believes in the power of creativity as a means to open up people. By using creativity she helps people to communicate better and to express their feelings. As a creating artist she loves to make beautiful things, especially drawing makes her happy.

I asked Jacolien did she have heroes or is your work unique?

I consider my work unique, during the years I have developed my own style, use of colours  and visual language to express my feelings.

I wondered where her inspiration came from and Jacolien told me that there were certain themes that keep inspiring her like nature and transience, imperminance and oblivion.

She is inspired by all that is around her and we can see this in her work.

“I am someone who delves into a certain subject. Several years ago for instance, the COLOUR BLUE of Afghan boerka’si inspired me to make drawings about oppressed women. The result was an art installation of drawings with a fitting room where public could try on the afghan burka.”

Some of these wonderful images can be seen here.

Recently I am more and more fascinated by the human brain. The mysteries of how it works and how certain external stimuli recall memories.

The transience we see in nature, in the changing of seasons, is a beautiful metaphor to express the loss of memories in oblivion.

For my latest work, a series of drawings titled ‘’Leaves on my mind’’  my most important inspiration I find in nature. As a child I already did collect flowers and leaves to dry them in books. I do a lot of hiking in the Netherlands and abroad. I am touched by the beauty of structures in leaves.  I collect leaves of plants and trees and use them as material in my work. My recent artworks are mixed media on paper. I use different drawing materials together with paint, ink and organic material (the leaves of plant and trees)  on paper. In my drawings about  the human mind I integrate leaves as material to visualise the human mind and brains.

My visual language is influenced by old medieval painting; I feel related to the ‘’primitive’’ and symbolic way of telling stories. I like the use of colours, paint and brushstroke of Van Gogh and the visual language of surrealist painters. Being an artist , different painters have inspired me. I feel related to Frida Kahlo, especially how she exposes her life in her self-portraits.

I wondered whether there was somewhere special that she painted in Utrecht.

“For years I used to have very large studio’s in deserted and empty buildings in and around Utrecht. For two years I have had  my Studio on the top floor at my home  in Zuilen. I live and work on the riverbank of the Vecht at the outskirt of the city where nature and cultivation meet. I enjoy both the culture life of the city and the green surroundings of town.”

Is Utrecht a particularly artistic city?

“Utrecht is an inspiring city with many artists and designers and lots of cultural Festivals. Unique in Utrecht are the ‘’Cultural Sundays’’ which regularly provide and inspire the citizens of Utrecht with music, art, theater, education and science.”

It will be exciting to see Jacoliens’  next show in Utrecht which is in May 2019 at Gallery Schoutenstraat 10.

What piece of work are you most proud of?

“I am proud of my recent work  ‘’Leaves on my mind’’  I think I have found a way to show my personal associations on the human brain.”

I asked whether Utrecht inspired Jacolien as a person, not as an artist though it must be hard to separate the two?

“Living in Utrecht for almost 40 years, the city still inspires and surprises me. I often visit the Utrecht museums and find inspiration in the old Hortus, the botanic gardens of the University of Utrecht and in the beauty of the old city.”

Where is your favourite place in Utrecht?

“My favourite place, a hidden treasure  in the old city, is the old Hortus, the garden behind the University Museum in the Lange Nieuwstraat. Here you find the oldest Gingko Biloba tree which,  especially now in autumn, covers the garden with beautiful gold gingko leaves. It also has a giant Amazonica water lily in the green house.”

Processed with MOLDIV

I wondered whether Utrecht as a city did enough for creative arts, she responded brightly with:

Don’t wait , but create!

Jacolien says she thinks that there are a lot of opportunities for artists in Utrecht and if not they can create their own opportunities or cooperate with other artists in town.

She feels that there is so much going on in Utrecht that it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening. As ever this is so exciting. We saw in the recent atelieroute how much is going on in the city. The artistic journey is an adventure we can all participate in.

I asked who should take the lead, Municipality, Artists, Schools, Universities?

“The Utrecht Municipality should see the importance of Utrecht being an Artistic and Creative City internationally.”

A dream indeed, but one the Municipality should look into. It would be yet another chance for Utrecht to show what an exciting, progressive city it is.

We have seen this mentioned many times by artists we have spoken to, but it is worth repeating. they promote high tech and science, but what about the old arts and innovative arts.

They also should provide enough affordable studio’s so artists can develop their skills.

but what is the Municipality doing?

“Artists are very much able of creating there own opportunities. By collaborating more they can expose themselves and perform their creativity.”

Everyone needs help to fulfil their potential. We cannot work in isolation and need collaboration between many agencies. the municipality should become more proactive in its support. Artists should feel comfortable in their work and having the right place to pursue their talent is vital.

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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