Persona July, 8th 2017 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 126 - Mieke de Haan


World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 126 – Mieke de Haan
Mieke de Haan is inspired by time and space. By abandoned corridors and rooms in old buildings. The almost tangible void in these spaces touches her. “As I step aside, I see the time going. I follow her through empty spaces. Sometimes I meet people, sometimes I only meet their shadows. Or do I hear their voices, very far away in the building.”
She worked half a year in such an old building: Gouda Museum. Above she had set up a studio where she worked. In her painting corner with easel and paint was a carpet on the ground. Two days a week she painted in the midst of an exhibition of her own work. This allowed visitors to follow live the entire painting process.


Against the wall are the paintings she has made here over the past few months. She is amazed at how productive she can be here. She has captured all kinds of aspects of the museum, the ceiling of the chapel, corners in the staircase portal, the old ceiling beams.
The building has a long history, it was a library, orphanage and guesthouse for the sick. Erasmus’ father died in this building on the plague. On the other side of the Museum I saw a house where the young Erasmus had spent a lot of time. A woman had taken care of him. Mieke de Haan shows me – at the end of our conversation – a special Erasmus room in Gouda Museum. It is more than likely that Erasmus himself has been around here.


In 2016, Mieke de Haan worked at the invitation of Museum Gouda during the Erasmus year as an artist-in-residence in the Jerusalem Chapel. The Erasmus’ principle ‘Distance separates only the bodies, not the spirits’, was the guide to a report in images of the wordless conversations she conducted with Erasmus. She bundled these 56 drawings in a large book, on show in a glass display in the middle of her museum studio. In the hallway all drawings are digitally displayed on a screen.


Space and time
We started the conversation in De Haan’s home, with a beautiful large studio space in a reconstructed old building at the head of the Peperstraat, not far from the Dutch IJssel. A street with a nice narrow canal. Her work is on the wall. Perspective spatial paintings, with many green, orange and brown in it. Indeed, it seems that space is her theme.


Mieke de Haan: “It’s about space and time. The past interests me and, in particular, how the past, as it were, is ‘traveling’ to the present. Many buildings, especially here in Gouda, have been around for quite some time, for centuries often. People lived in them, here they spent their lives. I am focused on traces of human presence. Light is also an important aspect which indicates time. Natural light moving through a space acts like a kind of clock. You can read the time it is. Sometimes the light brings things from outside, in the form of shadows, and the leaves of the trees, for example.”


Time trip
Initially, she still painted people in that space, but they gradually disappeared. She also captures what she feels in a room. That’s an extra layer in the artwork. People are sometimes there, for example, as a shadow. “I can hear them, but I do not see them.” While painting, she wants to be in multiple places and times.
“Making a painting feels like a time trip. I’m curious about the layer behind reality, and I’m trying to catch it in my work. The exterior of the painting, that what you see is the outside of the process.” The process is more important to her than the end result. “In the process, I am looking for a sincere connection with myself and the painting. That is largely unconscious. It is a form of hyperconcentration. This even happens in the studio room in Gouda Museum. Then I’m at work and I do not realize that there are dozens of people watching. “


Does she have a key work, a work that served as a turning point? That turning point seems to be there. She still remembers place and time. “Berlin, 2010. I am more frequent in Berlin. Family lives there. There was an art manifestation in an old orphanage. Berlin is a city full of history, often loaded history. In the orphanage you could still hear the children’s voices without having to concentrate much. That touched me, how I felt in the ‘now’ and the past. I made a lot of photos there.”
Following these pictures she started to paint. She shows two paintings of it. You see a long corridor, the light falling from the top and the side, in the distance silhouettes of persons. “I did not follow the pictures completely. I moved parts, turned things, made a wall of the ceiling. The colors of the paintings are not as I saw them there. But it is rooted in reality there, the picture got out of sight. Other sensations have been added and processed. “


Every day a drawing
Mieke de Haan graduated in 1985 in (fashion) illustration at the St. Joost Academy in Breda. She wanted to be an illustrator, fashion she considered a side case. Since 1985 she also works as an illustrator. “I love stories, I have a great love for text. As an artist, I tell my own stories and as an illustrator I imagine the stories of others. I think it’s nice to provide complicated things like processes and dry matter as annual reports of enlightening images. My work can be found in books, corporate and public magazines, on websites and even on billboards. I think illustrating is more than making pictures, you have to deal intelligently with the meaning of the text.”


Mieke begins every day making a drawing. “I have the benefit of this the whole day. It’s pretty spontaneous, I do not have anything in my mind where I want to go. The drawing seems to draw itself. Of course, it is interesting for psychologists, such drawings. Sometimes there appear to be layers that I do not see at the first moment. The meaning of such a drawing unfolds in time. That also applies to my paintings. I start a painting and see where it brings me. My paintings often surprise me.”
She likes to tell about them and she loves when other people come up with stories. “That something strikes the soul and opens the heart. That’s what attracts me in painting at the Museum. I like it when people dare to tell about what they see.”


She has previous experiences with working in the public. With jazz singer Astrid Seriese she was on stage with the Charcoal Songs project. Astrid singing and she drawing. She had no trouble at all with the audience. And before, she had portrayed people in Gouda during an event on the street. “Using a boiling alarm. Everyone got five minutes. On two panels of 1.20 x 4.80 m in total, I painted the portraits of 48 people in one day.”
She’s a real worker, she finally says. “I’m a doer, I will not wait for inspiration. When I just start something happens: the movement of a pencil on paper always makes sense to me. I can not imagine a life without drawing and painting. “
Images: 1) Mieke de Haan’s portrait, 2) key work 01 110x80cm 2010, 3) key work 02 110x80cm 2010, 4) Mieke de Haan exhibition Museum Gouda 2017, 5) Chapel # 03 ‘110x80cm 2015, 6) Mieke de Haan Museum Gouda 2017, 7) ‘Affected # 02’ 110x80cm 2016, 8) ‘Distribution’ 200×140 2014, 9) Mieke de Haan exhibition Museum Gouda 2017, 10) Mieke de Haan leaves in Erasmus book 2017

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