Marjolein van Haasteren

Marjolein van Haasteren (1967). Trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague. Lives and works in Leiden. Natural talent. Impressive and consistent oeuvre that shows a surrealistic landscape of architecture. Liquid and transparency, spiritualized landscape, dream and nightmare images.

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Romance à la Marjolein van Haasteren.

Technical skills but yet carefully controlled Marjolein van Haasteren developed her work. The work is serial and thematically organized around the landscape and architecture, an epic landscape and mythical architecture that finds its roots in reality. She mastered her skills, but is also curious about the power of illusion in paint and about painting as an act. That, combined with her interest in a particular kind of experience of the landscape, makes her work special and its approach requires time and clear observation.

Marjolein van Haasteren departs from the physical reality and works with a technique that has been developed for a specific function. Depth, it is the conscious and remarkable spatial effect in her work that intrigues. Her work is compact and the landscape is always covered with a kind of haze. The timbre of the colour palette combined with the spatial effect determine the quirkiness of the work.

Transparency and delirious in the image, a heaviness that works as a relief on the viewer. The artwork looks attractive and spacious. Images that loom and disappear. The paintings are almost surreal, as images that we see from the corner of our eye, on the edge of consciousness.

Magical dream images, sometimes with the atmosphere of nightmare. The point of view is often of a bird, the relaxation of the weightlessness. Marjolein van Haasteren evokes images which can be read as stories. The spectator, who can feel a certain degree of alienation, is lost in the depths of the backstage area. The landscapes are misty, solitary with aspects of light and smoke or water. In addition there is a threat, a tension, it’s like limbo. It is a difficult landscape.

The reality is so bad, nobody will believe it!

This quote describes our reaction to the testimony of a seemingly different world, one of horror and abomination. It refers to our disbelief of a reality of mythical proportions, possibly natural or unnatural. Marjolein van Haasteren shows another reality. Visually muted colours dominated dusk, a situation of change. It is again the effect of looming and drowning, a pulse. That particular hour of the day, the hazy colours of neon lights at night and titles like Pendragon, Styx and Watching Troy confirm the mythical and fairy tale quality as a reference.

I really wanted to include my love for stories into my artwork.

Inspiration can turn out to be horrible when it’s used in mythical proportions. Van Haasteren read Primo Levi’s ‘If this is a Man’, in which he reports his experiences in Auschwitz-Monowitz. He describes the chemical factory of IG-Farben, the Buna, where thousands of slaves worked and witnessed the horrors. The association with the factory lost its innocence forever, the image is loaded with negativity.

Such a landscape and the use of the expressivity of the landscape is related to the ideas of the Romanticism. In the Romantic period the subjective experience could serve as a starting point, with a central part for concepts such as introspection, intuition, emotion, spontaneity and imagination. Van Haasteren indicates the physical connection between the emotional experience and the perception of the landscape in solitude and the landscape as a metaphor of human strivings and failure. She shows the dissonance of architecture in the landscape, an empty pier, the abandoned factory and a highway at night. The naïve structures are included in a mirage, for what lasts are some streaks of light in a smoky atmosphere. The mentality is that of memento mori with the disappearance as a starting point. Even the memory will disappear and the past, Watching Troy, is a warning. That sensation, of a desolate landscape loaded from the palette of emotions is not merely sweet and romantic, but filled with for instance threat and danger.

After all, since Romanticism the landscape has been thoroughly compromised by human activity, sometimes even poisoned. The factory appears to be a beast and the romance isn’t an innocent landscape with Van Haasteren.

Presented by Gallery Project 2.0.

Text by Allart Lakke, 2012.

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