Persona April, 29th 2020 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 262 - Reina van Zwoll

reina van zwoll – MB 1

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 262 – Reina van Zwoll
Reina van Zwoll creates magical realistic and mythological oil paintings. I saw some nice examples of this in a recent exhibition of Location Laurier in the Laurierstraat. Reason enough to visit her in the artists’ complex Nieuw en Meer, on the outskirts of Amsterdam, not far from Schiphol.
I have to search a little before I find it, her house is also a gallery. It is located just past the barracks on the right side of a square. Reina welcomes me and when I look around I see a cuckoo clock on the wall, painted plates with floral scenes, scaly fish sculptures, a big swan and Jesus on the cross. Dog Laika comes to greet me.

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The kitchen
At that moment, Reina was busy organizing an exhibition in Vrij Paleis, near the Dam, in which about twenty artists participated. “I’ve been working on it all the time. I no longer have time to make a new work for myself. But it will be great. ”
We are in the kitchen, a little further on is the living room / studio and to the right is the bedroom. Then there is also an underground space, which I will see later, Reina’s own museum, ‘Gallery On the Edge’. She has music by Leonard Cohen on.
She tells how she came to live here 30 years ago. “There were not that many people living here in Nieuw en Meer, much was still empty. Now it is completely full. This house was a dump, I completely renovated it. The basement was full of water, it smelled and it was dirty. ‘I have to make something of this’, I thought. The bed was in the kitchen in the beginning. I first made the kitchen habitable, with the help of some lovely exes. There were pans everywhere in the house to collect rainwater, the roof was leaking on all sides. New windows have arrived and we have enlarged the hole to the basement. Everyone thought I was crazy. ”

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Happy Times
There were two children, her daughters Kolja and Ruby, aged 5 and 1.5. The daughters have grown up, one is a journalist, showmaster and tour guide and the other is a psychologist and yoga teacher. “Those were happy times back then. The children on the terrain ran back and forth together in and out their houses. I had my own house, I felt free. We have moved bit by bit starting from the kitchen. At the complex, apart from a few artists, we had a white horse, a few goats, an owl and bats. In the evening after I put the kids to bed, I sat outside on the doorstep with my dog and cat, the bats flew above me, the owl made his sounds on the roof next to my house and the white horse invariably came to visit at the door to get a sandwich.”

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Before she came here, she lived in various squats. She was punk back then. “It was a great time in the early 1980s. We went from squat to squat. We had no money at the time. We, my sister Marja and my friend Veronique and I, played guitar in the city putting a hat in front of us to collect money. Bob Dylan and such songs. When we were in the NRC building, we had a huge space, we took every bum inside. It was a cold winter. The windows were broken, the drains were broken, the water that had run out of the pipes was frozen in the hallway. The bums would be crazy people, but everyone was so sweet. We slept together under glass wool, a roll we found on the street, everyone next to each other, man / woman / man / woman. You warmed to each other, nothing else. During the day we went to the K. Appel and the Mensa in the Damstraat. There you got (often free) food. We went to sing and dance in the Fat City Disco. We were allowed in every night for free because we were the party starters. We started dancing and the rest followed. We sat there night after night. And we showered and did our laundry in the Marnix Swimming Bath. Life was a fairytale. ”

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Her eldest daughter was born in ’83. “I lived in the basement of a squat, a beautiful building with broken mirrors with golden edges. ‘You are still in time for an abortion’, said a doctor. But I didn’t want that at all. Although I was not at all busy with pregnancy, I was suddenly unexpectedly exceptionally happy. She is now a fantastic daughter. ”
In the meantime she drew and painted, which she did from an early age. “At the age of three I won a drawing competition in which children of 7 years old also took part. At school I had to go around classes with my drawings. I was ashamed to death. I have to paint from myself. Then, in the 1980s, I met a teacher from the Rietveld Academy. I got a key to his house and a place to paint there, great. He painted models. I became a model of him, also at the Rietveld Academy. ”

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Oil paintings
For years she has been making oil paintings with a magical realistic or mythological theme. “A painting takes me three months. I have to shut off, which is difficult at times. I paint in the room, but sometimes I think ‘I’d like to work in jail!’ Just put me in jail, solitary confinement (when my daughter ever got a traffic fine, I said, ‘put it on my name, I’m going to sit it out’). All the time to paint, you get your meal and your drink. Music should be added, and occasional there is time to read. For me, the jail is a dream world, but of course for a short time. Then I can concentrate well, here I am so distracted. ”
She is currently not in a relationship and she likes it. “That takes you so much time. I love those crazy, complicated but also very nice types. I’ve spent a lot of my life ‘living’ … All those relationships. Always love. ” See also the text at the top left of her site (“Letter from Amrit”, where she discusses the dark aspects. “Maybe I wanted to get to know the dark side of life.”

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Reverend’s daughter
She is a reverend’s daughter. “My father was a reverend in Kampen. He was a nice and sweet man. And a nice pastor. He died when I was six. My mother was sad, but wanted to maintain her status. I would like to talk quietly with my mother. I liked him, but I thought that church was stupid. When you see the backwardness of it with your full awareness and you still have to like it and, if you don’t find it, then you are labeled as difficult, then something is simply not right. That was a thing ….. because otherwise we as a family had a lot of fun together. ”
With her sister Marja, she traveled to Greece and Turkey. “We went hitchhiking without money. We lived off the air.” When she was eighteen she went to Turkey as an au pair in the village of Yenikoy, near Istanbul. When she returned, in Eindhoven for a while, she left, with her sister Marja, to Amsterdam and lived there in squats.

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Something religious
We are going to look around, also in the front room, the workspace and the bedroom. A large old-fashioned four-poster bed with a deer on it. In the study a lamp made by her daughter and paintings and works of art. Also Mary’s and Jesus Christ. “Maybe something religious in me, probably genetic.” In the kitchen on a cupboard various portraits. “Many people who died, including my brother, my sister and my niece. A very good friend, an ex. We were home with five, except me two boys and two girls. I do have an issue with death.” On the right the painting ‘Struggle for Life’ in which various heads try to stay above water in a swirling blue-black sea.

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Museum ‘On the Edge’
And around me magically realistic and mythological paintings, including a biblical scene with Christ in the form of a falling pigeon, a painting with an angel behind a man, two jesters, the work ’01 -09-1976 ‘with a leggy woman , a skull, a child who comes out of a garbage can with a cloud, an Amsterdam pole with three crosses (‘Amsterdammertje’) and a skewed bus stop sign with the text ‘Amsterdam – Oud-West’. Various comments from visitors hang from on the beam halfway. ‘Special atmosphere’, ‘What a beautiful, inspiring place’.
Parallel world
Back at the ground floor, she says in response to my comment, “There are more things in life. I have an awareness of this world and of a parallel world. ”

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Celebrate life
We finish the interview. What is her philosophy? “Difficult, every person has his own philosophy, it soon sounds pompous to say something about it. There will be the exhibition soon and my work next to it. It’s fun to bring people together and make it a party. In any case, partying is of paramount importance to me. We have to celebrate life. But I also have a serious side. If I had another week to live, I would party and laugh and have fun. We need enjoyment, the tinkle of life. Fun also has something sarcastic, laughing at life with all the highlights and all the misery, making fun of it. People laugh too little. I just say something, everything is relative and rebuttable. ”
1)carried by hands, 2) untitled, 3) amsterdam street live, 4) angel, 5) the entrance of the house, 6 – 7) inside, 8) insanity, 9) jesters, 10) Reina van Zwoll

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