Today I am very happy to present an artist I met a little over a year ago at the group exhibition Donna 2021, organised by Giulio Pettinato and the Castel Gandolfo Art Centre (September, Sala Nagasawa via Appia Antica, Rome): Marieke Samuels from Brabant, and more precisely from Etten-Leur. Right from the start, there was a spark for the Dutch artist’s work thanks to the strong but delicate personality and sensitivity that shines through: her female protagonists emerge like ancient frescoes from the support that is treated in an expressionistic and abstract manner by a mix of techniques. Delicate yet determined, the protagonists emerge from the canvas as if they were spiritual apparitions that have remained imprisoned for a long time: a contemporary and divine version of the Graces that scrutinise the observer, interrogating him. After having represented the artist in Rome and subsequently in a winter group exhibition in Appelscha, I had the pleasure of hosting her at the small Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde for almost the whole of 2022, gaining much favour and appreciation for her artistic poetics.
I would now like to give the floor to Marieke Samuels so that readers can get to know her better.
How and when was the artist born in you?
The artist was born gradually. It all started slowly with my first exhibition in 2007. I was invited by the grandmother of a classmate of my children, who organised exhibitions in her employer’s building. At her insistence, I agreed to exhibit my work. She thought my work was of quality. Gradually, more exhibitions followed. Then I was asked to teach and some gallery owners invited me to their galleries. So I was actually persuaded or convinced by the outside world to become an artist. It was not something I had in mind for myself. Today, I realise that I am not an average person and that I have an above-average creative ability. The outside world only saw it first….
Where do you get your inspiration from? Can you explain how you technically make a portrait?
I get inspired by seeing the work of other artists. I have also always been fascinated by beautiful female faces. Nature is a source of inspiration for my use of colour and texture.
My portraits on canvas start very intuitively with an abstract background. The use of colour and texture depends entirely on my mood. Then, when the background has become interesting enough, I try to discover a face in it. This also happens very intuitively. Then I sketch the face on the background with charcoal or pencil and in some cases directly with acrylic paint. I usually use photographic material as a reference to give a realistic look. Then I work on the face with as little paint as possible and think about what is needed for the finish in order to get a strong whole.
Your work is a mixture of expressionism and abstraction. Why this choice of style to enhance the female face?
I find abstract work more interesting than realistic work. It touches me sooner and also leaves more room for imagination. As an artist, I can also express my intuitions and feelings in abstraction and expressionism. And those are my greatest motivations to create.
How important is the mix of media and especially the expressionist choice of colours?
My intuition and feelings are the biggest motivators and I can express them well in the way I use paint or pastel. I allow myself quite a lot of freedom with many wild and impetuous actions, whereas when creating the face I am very controlled and precise. And my choice of medium allows me to do all these things. My use of colour is determined by my taste and mood. They are mostly earthy and natural colours. I actually work with a limited colour palette, but my colours mix beautifully with each other. That’s very important to me, because I let the colours flow into each other.
What are your plans after two years of uncertainty about the pandemic? It promises to be the year of Venus, beauty, and positive female energy.
My future plans are to continue painting and I hope to be able to sell my works. The latter I’d better let others do, because selling myself is not really my strong suit. I also think that teaching on a small scale is a nice addition to my work. I can express my passion for portraiture, and I also appreciate the social aspect.
I would like to sincerely thank Marieke Samuels for her time and, while waiting to have her as a welcome guest again at the Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde, I would like to invite you to visit her website and her instagram page, as well as to recommend a visit to her atelier in Etten-Leur near Breda.