Persona January, 10th 2020 by

World Fine Art Professionals and Their Key Pieces, 246 - Jordan Herregraven

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World Fine Art Professionals and Their Key Pieces, 246 – Jordan Herregraven
While visiting Jordan Herregraven in his studio on The Hague Prinsegracht, I see a whole tableau with much of his work. It is large, with some canvases of the ‘Threshold series’ on the left, in the middle is a tree and a chair upon which a pillow is cut in the middle and inside is a small silver creature, a kind of embryo. On the floor there is a large checkerboard of hay with dirt in between. And of course, there are his mummies and his animals.

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They are vestigial animals. Sometimes they look more like a seal, or a pig, or a dog, sometimes even like a greyhound, a hippo or a sheep. They are part of the ‘Pneumanima’ series. The installation includes etchings and wood sculptures. He is continuously changing the elements in his installation. What a production of this young artist!

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Nature and life
Jordan has had a number of shows, one at the museum Beelden aan Zee in The Hague. Additionally, he has been nominated as one of three visual arts candidates for the Piket Award 2019.
What is it all about? 29-year-old Jordan Herregraven, born in Phoenix, Ariz., U.S., explains. “It’s my personal approach to nature and life. People are part of nature. Sometimes they feel superior to other parts of nature, but then they are mistaken.”

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The work has many layers, including aspects of life as migration. Jordan uses symbols to give his works meaning. “Some symbols come from art history, some I created myself. Some I don’t even know the meaning of myself. I do my work intuitively, out of curiosity. It is an attempt to understand, and sometimes also an attempt not to understand. When I am looking at the things I make it’s like I am seeing them for the first time.”

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He set up a kind of system to realize it all. “It starts conceptually and continues physically in a kind of dialogue. The dialogue is a process. As you view my work, you discover for example a dead fish. ‘Did I make a dead fish?’ I wonder. While working, the object tells you the story that you had in you. It is surprising and mysterious. Almost poetic.”

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Why is he so involved in this? “It is my search for the meaning of life. It is a deep fascination, my relationship to nature. When I was a child my mother would take me to the British Museum in London. There I saw Egyptian mummies. We as a family had moved from America to Britain. Later we would move to Holland. My father worked at a medical company that gave him several jobs in different countries. My dad is Dutch by the way.”
There is also a link to the theme of reality and imagination. Jordan’s grandfather in America is also a Lutheran pastor. He most assuredly has influenced the young Jordan.

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Key work
Does he have key works, works that give a new twist to his oeuvre? Jordan: “Almost every work is a key work. So I have lots of key works. It is a slow development. I interpret it as a jump that happens at a moment. When I made the Pillow Dream I was thinking about the essence of a dream and a little bit later about the essence of a stomach. It’s like the solar system, where the planets are circling around the sun. When I work often the outcome is unknown. I am the engine that creates everything around my sun.”
A lot of the animals were made several years ago. “It revolves around the idea of the body. An animal is less complex than a human. There is a connection to the self, the soul.” Sometimes the animals have a smaller animal, a bird for instance or even a baby on their back. He started making installations in school, at The Hague Royal Academy. He graduated five years ago.

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Jordan also makes etchings, very special. “This past year I made many etchings. When I work on etchings I don’t work on sculptures. It inspires me to do the other work, working on wood, special materials and carving. Etching involves details, that’s also the case with wood. After a few weeks I switch to a different medium. Every time I learn so much. Every piece I learn from. In terms of technology and tools and knowing what you’re doing, you get better. You see progress. You get better in knowing what you want.”

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How long is he an artist? “All my life I’d say. I was creative as a child. At age 4-5 I made books with my mum, I made drawings that worked with the text. I was always digging for bones back in the yard. Not much has changed. I started painting at home when I was 15, school teachers pushed me positively in that direction. At 18 I had my first solo show in America, which was successful. At 19, I went to Holland to visit my grandmother. I brought my portfolio and I applied at KABK, the Royal Academy. I was immediately accepted. At KABK it was great meeting many new people, coming into contact with many new things. My third year was difficult. I went back to the States (for half a year). When I returned I made the work that I still do.”

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He is happy with his studio on the Prinsegracht. “It is nice to have your own space, to figure out what you want. You can step back and think. I have so many ideas. My way of working is quite hermetic, I am happy working alone. It is important to make the step to get over yourself and see what you are connected to, also to things and people outside yourself.”
He was surprised being selected for the Piket Award. “I never expected it. I had a call, and then a studio visit.”
Finally, what is his philosophy? “In daily life we are busy with many things. Through my work I can make the connection. It is the connection of the inner world and the reflection of this inner world to the outside where I find meaning.”
(November 25, 2019, Jordan won the Piket Award 2019 for the art of Painting.)
Images: 1) Pillow, 2) A Week of Wonders, 3) Apiary, 4) eye surrender, 5) Gluton, 6) animal, 7) pneumanima no. 6 (Janus), 8) pneumanima no. 13 (Alter), 9) pneumanima no. 14, 10) Studio May 2019

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