It was a pleasure to meet up with uber talented Utrecht artist Anja Mosselaar when she met and presented international singer, Jacob Banks with a portrait during the Tivoli leg of his European 2018 tour and she was very open in discussions with me about creating her art from the heart.
Jacob´s portrait was finished just one hour before his concert at the Tivoli concert hall in the Netherlands, Utrecht. When she presented Jacob with the oil painting, he was pleasantly surprised and he burst out laughing, as it was still wet. Anja said:
“Jacob asked me how long the painting would take to dry and I said years dear! He looked very surprised but I then said that it would be touch dry in the morning. I proposed to post the painting to the UK but Jacob turned the offer down flat, as he said he wanted to take the painting on his European tour! ”
Anja mentioned to me that she had worked for over 40 hours on Jacob’s portrait before his concert, just days after Black Friday!
Anja said, “I missed all the bargains on Black Friday as I was busy painting all day.”
Were you always a painter? How did your early life look like?
“I was always busy creating, drawing portraits and maps of dream houses, designing my newest wardrobe and looking for fabrics and haberdashery when I was a child. My mother then assembled the pieces of fabric together”,
Anja told me that after studying Economics and Languages at University she moved to Utrecht for both work and love.
“When I was 25 years of age, my father died in a tragic road accident. He was a passionate musician; conductor and he was also the life and soul of the party. I then decided to truly follow my heart and to quit my job. I went on to study Fine Arts at the HKU, Utrecht school of Arts.”
Graduating as a painter, Anja enhanced her skills by also studying fashion and textiles, for a year. At fashion school she discovered the art of weaving. It was then where her love for both painting and textiles merged together.
Despite having severe migraine headaches from the age of five after being involved in an accident, Anja has not let that stop her pursuing her profession, in art.
What inspires you?
“My father and mother inspire me. Their love for nature, music and textiles. It all comes together in my art in which I depict natural elements and human beings. I love my garden and spend days planting flowers and plants and looking at them.”
Living in the city centre of Utrecht, Anja creates her art within the tranquillity and view of her tasteful city jungle garden.
“I prefer the solace of silence, as too much noise drives me nuts. However, listening to a great artist like Jacob Banks, gives me inspiration to undertake my work.”
“I like the Netherlands and feel inspiration from the old great painting masters that have lived here. I also get inspiration from travelling to other countries.
I have lived and worked in Italy, Florence, where I learnt more about traditional oil paint techniques.
I climbed volcanoes like the Etna in Italy and the Ol Doinyo Lengal vulcano in Tanzania.
The local Masai people respect Lengai as the holy mountain of God. On top of the vulcano you feel the bliss, a state of perfect happiness. The deserts of Morocco and Oman taught me that everything is transient.”
Are there any artist that inspires you?
“Painters like Gerhard Richter, Michaël Borremans, Neo Rauch and Lieven Hendriks and fashion designers like Madame Grès, Vivienne Westwood and Mariano Fortuny inspire me.”
What is your art about?
“My aim is to touch someone’s soul, to provide a moment of tranquillity and internalisation, to create a world of one’s own, to connect with the Self. Somebody called my textiles, serene and modest. I am happy if that is what people get from my art.”
How did you create your prized series?
“My idyllic Landscapes series are based on small fragments of acrylic paints. Using a magnifying glass, I could see on these little pieces of paint another world like no other. Imaginary landscapes where the unknown turns into life! These little special stories I enlarged and painted on big sized canvas.
I like to make my own oil paints, rather than use oil paints from a tube. The process of mixing ingredients and preparing the canvas is very relaxing, you already create the painting in your head.”
What piece of work would you say is your best?
“The excitement about my painting called Fluvial scape from the Idyllic Landscape series, would be my best painting. It is a piece that I would be very reluctant to sell.”
Do you think you have a Masterpiece in you?
“Most painters would like to paint at least one Masterpiece in their life time. The great painters are able to repeat that many times over. In yoga you have a name for art that is in touch with the internal levels of your being; yoga-kala, art that is truly genuine, divine and beautiful. Art without this inner depth is known as bloga-kala, art for pleasure. Art for pleasure has its value of course, but can easily become art for sensual gratification. A Masterpiece for me is a combination of the two, art that is truly genuine and pleasurable to look at, that is what I aim for.”
Do you get help in promoting and selling your art?
“I am fortunate to have an agent helping me to market and sell my art work, but not everyone has that opportunity. In the UK artists are helped more than in the Netherlands, the government has reduced the funding, therefore it is difficult for everyone to reach their true potential”.
Is Utrecht a particularly artistic city?
Utrecht is a fantastic city and the municipality supports young artists and designers with lots of cultural festivals. Also, the Municipality provides cheap studios to help young artists. It is perfect! But the government could do a lot more.
How do you combine yoga and art?
“Years ago, I became a yoga teacher at Yoga Moves in Utrecht. I like to inspire and encourage students to explore their own body, mind and soul through the art of performing asana’s. I think the yogi and the artist are alike. By redoing and experiencing like in any art, insights in the Self, the heart, will come when you are true, humble and sincere to yourself. That is for sure a conscious, delicate and life time learning process, an artwork infinito.”
“I feel comfortable where I am now, I love what I do, creating paintings and fabrics is like making love, once you’ve done it, you want to do it time and time again…”
Any heart felt wishes? Do you have any plans in the near future in the art world?
“ I’d like to use the full potential of my creative talents in my paintings to also design floor carpets, wall hangings and would also like to work together with fashion designers to develop unique and luxurious textiles.”
“If I wasn’t an artist or a yoga teacher then being a gardener like BBC’s and Netflix’s Monty Don, would be a close run thing! During December 2018, I plan to travel to London with my agent to explore some business opportunities with some galleries.”
Things are on the up as Anjas’ paintings are becoming more sought after. This undiscovered Dutch talent has a rare eye for detail and her painting techniques are from the past and present. She loves to push the boundaries in her art.
What places in Utrecht inspire you?
“Yoga Moves; is a great place to be, to enjoy and work on energising and balancing the body, mind and soul
Bijenkorf; the café on the second floor; it has a great view, relaxing staff and interior, it’s a great spot for a creative meeting, or for reading the Algemeen Dagblad and other papers, treating yourself to a nice cup of tea and a delicious pie, it’s where my ideas come into action.
Puschkin; an art café, with great music and engaging host, you can have interesting encounters.
Boekenbar; there are many cool books, with nice music, and again, great pies.
Kloek; has the best chicken in town.
Metro: the restaurant in the World Trade Centre; has great food, and a friendly staff.”