Persona July, 21st 2017 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 128 - Renneke van der Linden

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 128 – Renneke van der Linden
On Renneke van der Linden’s multicolored paintings you will see people who are busy with all kinds of things. Often the scene is taking place in tropical countries.
Renneke van der Linden apparently feels herself at home in non-western cultures. She appears to be born in a village in northern Pakistan (Narowal) where her father was stationed in 1968 as a cultural anthropologist / non-western sociologist. The first eight years of her life Renneke lived in Pakistan.

Other cultures, but also the combination with Dutch culture, are the subject of her work. She paints on the basis of photos she makes while traveling. She combines those photos into new compositions. Based on what she saw, Van der Linden affords herself the freedom to create new worlds.

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In the Amsterdam MLB Gallery she recently had the exhibition ‘Travel Impressions’ together with her husband Michiel Nijkamp. Before I spoke to her at her exhibition, I happened to be in De Hallen, a little further, where I saw a big work of her ‘Fair in the Xi-an Zoo’. She tells me that she won a prize with this painting: the Beeldend Gesproken Kunstprijs 2017 (The Fine Art Prize 2017).

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Renneke van der Linden has traveled a lot and far. Now that she has two children in school age, David (9) and Anja (11) she still travels, but less far. “My father wrote a thesis ‘The Bastis of Karachi’ in the seventies. He then worked for projects related to slums improvement. That’s how our family came to Pakistan. The family has lived there for ten years, and I eight years. Occasionally we also went to the Netherlands. My eldest sister, Heleen, born in Utrecht, traveled as a baby of 1 with my parents on the boat to Pakistan and was there therefore the longest. Then I was born there, and my youngest sister, Loes, was born in Utrecht. “

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African tribe
On her sixteenth, Renneke returned. How was it in Pakistan this time? Renneke: “We went there with the whole family, bringing my sister, Heleen, who went to work as a volunteer. I was very shocked by the poverty, theft and stone-throwing Muslims. In later years, I travelled to India, which was safer for tourists, never again to Pakistan. I am very concerned with the news about Pakistan, and other countries. This is now mainly negative. I would like to show the other side, the ‘wealth of poverty’.”

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In 2003 she was with Michiel in Kenya. There she made a series of paintings, of which some also hung at the exhibition in the MLB Gallery. She indicates one of those paintings, ‘the African tribe’ as a key work. We see a group of people (a different tribe than the Maasai) making music and dancing, huts in the background. “With this painting I made a leap forward in my painting technique. Technically, I went ahead. I also found the pleasure in painting again after a period of depression. “

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Carousel being broken down
There was a gallery talk in De Hallen following the award-winning painting ‘Fair in the Xi-an Zoo’. On the painting there is a carousel being broken down. The fairground horses lie in the grass. Also some of the men’s heads which were on top of the carousel, part of the heads is still on top. “People responded very positively. Everything is loose on that painting, I realized at that time. Only then did I realize why I had made that painting. That painting is about loneliness. In De Hallen there was music made inspired by the painting, that was sarcastic music. Well suited to a sarcastic painting.”

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Renneke van der Linden is an artist for 24 years. She studied at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Arnhem, first one year of Teacher Training, and then another 4 years of Art, and next one year at the AKI in Enschede, at the painters department. “That year, a lot has come loose in color and composition. I made the painting ‘Jacob with the Angel’ when I encountered people who were on the AKI, and they said that I could learn to paint well over there. In Arnhem it was all very theoretical, the AKI was a good addition. “

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She is positive about the art climate in the Netherlands. “You get the space to be who you want to be. There is a social safety net. I do what I would like to do, in another job I would be unhappy. I’m fitting in badly in systems, especially if power plays a role. In your studio you can be who you are. I have become happy. I would like to sell everything I’ve made. But I may not be dissatisfied this year, I have sold reasonably well. “
Not only did Renneke win the Beeldend Gesproken Kunstprijs this year, she also won the second prize ‘Stan Raemdonck’ in Lovendegem in Belgium. “There were 300 entries, the subject was ‘Nature’.”

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Feast of recognition
It was not obvious to choose for figurative at the Academy. “I was sometimes laughed at it. The idea was it was too literal, almost primitive. But I chose it. I need to get hold of what I do and I would like to be understood. I like it if people experience it as a feast of recognition. “

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