Persona July, 3rd 2020 by

 World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 270 - Jet Willems

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 270 – Jet Willems
Jet Willems makes abstract and intuitive colorful paintings with a lot of dynamism. Most of the work is made with acrylic paint, she also does watercolors, in a smaller size. Recently she had an exhibition in the MLB gallery entitled ‘Spheres’.
I visit her on the last day of the exhibition where, due to the corona crisis, only one visitor at a time can come. The exhibition should have ended long ago, but because everything came to a halt at the start of the crisis, all work was allowed to hang on for several weeks.

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How does Jet Willems look back on the exhibition? “When I remember all the reactions, I think ‘What a gift’. I saw how people experienced my work. It turned out to affect people. Then I think ‘So beautiful that I can do this’. My soul energy is in it. My paintings are, as it were, invitations to the viewer; where does it affect you, what do the colors and movement evoke in you? And then you see that everyone has their own experience with the works. Everyone will experience what is ‘touched’ in themselves differently. That is only good. ”

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Mystical experience
She has been making this abstract work since 2015. To be precise since March 2015, when her father died. Jet Willems: “That was the trigger. Previously I made figurative work, but that was no longer possible. I had an enormous urge to depict everything I felt on canvas. It started then and it has not stopped. I just had to. During the painting process I came across many layers in myself. ”

Each work is based on a mystical, spiritual inner experience or theme. “It can be a text, it can also be an image or music. I am busy with the great things in life. What is the meaning of everything? Is there life after death?” She appears to have been baptized in the Catholic church, not strange when your birthplace is Hoorn. “As a five-year-old girl, I was fascinated by the stories of the New Testament and the rituals of the church service. As I got older I started to study other religions and I developed my spirituality. ”

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She reads everything. “Very diverse. I am not looking for the truth but for knowledge. I read all kinds of books and texts, from spiritual and esoteric works to literature and novels. From that I take the things that touch me and make me think. ”
She has no choice but to create, she says. “That is my mission in life. I have to imagine things and then send it out into the outside world. With my paintings I want to evoke emotions in the viewer, the viewer will recognize and experience the energy in them. All works have a title. Sometimes the title ignites something already. Art can generate joy, give comfort, and also raise frictions. It is important that the work creates tension. ”

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Key work
Does she have a key work, and if so which work is it? She even appears to have two key works, both of which are on display in the exhibition. We walk over there. The first work is called ‘Break on through the other side’ from 2018. I see strong circling movements in the colors blue purple and pink, the top right is black, the top left it gets lighter. The movement resembles that of a whirlwind.
Willems: “A month before I started meditating with a friend. I used to be a bit dismissive about that, but I thought I’d give it a try. It turned out to be an experience that fueled my creative process. It slowly descended. I came to myself in layers where I had never been. When the work was done I left it for a few days. Then it dawned on me: ‘That’s it, that’s what I feel, what I experience’. Meditation turned out to be important for me to experience what is going on at the time, what I want to tell about it and what ‘wants to be seen’. The work also turned out to be a breakthrough in terms of technique and use of color. I used more colors, while before that I had a limited palette of black, white, blue and sand colour. ”

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The second key work is called ‘The holy land is everywhere’, from 2019. You see a glowing desolate weathered earth, the colors announce the sunset. The work, like all her work, consists of many layers. “I (often) paint transparent layers on top of each other, this is how layer over layer is created, just like with a pearl. As a child I was very interested in the Natives /Indians, that fascination has not disappeared. On the contrary. When I finished this canvas, I thought ‘I know this. This is the ‘old’ landscape that I remember. It is the energy of the Natives. Shortly thereafter, I came across a poem by Black Elk, a chief elder, spiritual director of the Lakotas. When I read that poem, prayer, I thought ‘I have depicted this poem on my canvas’.”
In another earlier work, she has depicted a ‘Talking Stick’ by the Natives, ‘See Me, Hear Me, Feel Me’ it is called. “When the natives / Indians sit together, in a circle, the person speaking has the stick. Old stories are told that all listen to. The stick is nicely decorated. The stick can be passed on. What wisdom such a stick has! ”

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How long is Jet Willem’s artist? “Ever since I was able to hold a pencil.” Born in Hoorn and later moved to Hengelo, she went to the Academy St. Joost in Breda at the age of 17. “I spent two years there. I couldn’t handle that free structure. I was much too young. ” However, she continued to paint and draw and later completed the LOI Illustration course. She made figurative work, free work and commissioned work.
In Amsterdam she was a childcare manager in the years 2006 – 2014, but she ran aground. But not much later, March 2015, as we saw, she still experienced her breakthrough. In the meantime she has moved back to the head of North Holland, in Zwaag, near Hoorn.

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The Golden Age
What is her experience with art life? “I participated in a number of group exhibitions with my figurative work. Last September I participated in an art project in Zwaag, ‘What does the Golden Age mean to you?’. 16 artists from Hoorn and surroundings participated. The Golden Age was not a golden age for everyone. The first terms to emerge, when there is talk about the Dutch Golden Age, is: VOC, trade, shipping. I made a painting located on the Banda Islands. That story is told less often.” She shows me the painting on her phone. It has since been sold. It is a painting with two opposite colors, emerald green at the bottom and sandy yellow at the top, and a whirlwind in turbulent colors. “The Banda Islanders were massacred by the colonizers. 70 chieftains were beheaded. In this painting I used colors that I associate with the Dutch East-Indies; yellow and green, emerald green to get an intense effect. ”
This exhibition ‘Spheres’ is her first solo exhibition.

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Inner child
Finally, does she have a philosophical closing word? She has. She quotes the musician, author and computer artist Stephen Nachmanovitsch. “The most potent muse of all is your inner child.” Jet Willems: “The child is open to everything. Uninhibited, capable of wondering, confident, playing, discovering and having fun. When I reach that state of his while painting, joy and gratitude emerge. ‘How beautiful life is’, ‘How beautiful the world is!’”

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1) Each soul must meet the morning sun, 2) Loneliness, 3) watercolor 1, 4) watercolor 2, 5) watercolor 3, 6) The Holy land is everywhere, 7) See me feel me hear me, 8) Break on through to the other side, 9) Jet Willems, 10) Banda Besar

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