Persona July, 8th 2021 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 322 - Elsa Hartjesveld

elsa hartjesveld – 1

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 322 – Elsa Hartjesveld
At the ES MALT exhibition at the Ruimtevaart foundation, the central space was filled with large works by the artists Hans Ensink op Kemna, Paul van der Zande and Elsa Hartjesveld. The three artists responded to each other with a basic form. For Ensink op Kemna that was the triangle, for Van der Zande the rectangle and for Hartjesveld the circle.
It produced a strong overall picture. In the halls around the central space there was room for other works by these artists, in which their basic form could often be recognized.

elsa hartjesveld – 2

The eye
The large-sized circle in the center space of Hartjesveld – based on an A4 drawing standing up in pencil with the title ‘Looking far’ – looked somewhat menacing. Was it a jagged pupil of an eye or a round piece of black iron with sharp edges in the universe? Probably not, but so what?
On a Tuesday morning I visit Elsa in her studio in the Naval Heroes neighbourhood (Zeeheldenbuurt) in The Hague. The ceiling of the room is plastered, there is a large mirror against the wall, in front of it a Voltaire armchair and on the right side of the wall various works of art, more about that in a moment and behind me an empty wall. It was full of the works in the ES MALT exhibition.

elsa hartjesveld – 3

Looking for an atmosphere
There is no central theme in her art, she says. “A lot of passing themes. My inner world, my thoughts and feelings, but also my outer world. I am looking for an atmosphere and I try to capture that in an image. That image arises while painting or drawing.”

elsa hartjesveld – 4

Everything can be a source of inspiration. A photograph, a stain, a painting. “Everything can evoke something. For example, I think, ‘I feel like pink’ today. Then I’ll get on with that. I sometimes let the paint guide me: mixing colors, applying a stroke. Paint is a world of its own.”
The final painting shows a wide variety of subjects: portraits, barbies, poodles, buildings, caravans, free forms, often circular. “But they don’t just represent what you see. There are more layers; not only that of the material appearance but also an emotional or a more spiritual layer.”

elsa hartjesveld – 5

Into the depth and the limitation
While she now looks for free space when painting, she works differently when drawing. “Apparently they don’t have much to do with each other, but one cannot exist without the other. Painting is playing, making openings and more outward looking. Drawing is scratching, looking for a different reality with concentration. I draw very concentrated and close; the endless rhythmic repetition of the movements while drawing creates a limitation and a density, which creates a large inner space. And that not only provides a lot of freedom, but also something higher and impersonal, perhaps not immediately visible, but something that hopefully evokes the image and lies outside it, as it were.”
Circles appeal to her. “When I start with a circle, I have something to hold on to, the shape suits me. I find it reassuring that a circle has no end and no beginning. It is less earthy, less materialistic.”

elsa hartjesveld – 6

Key work
Does she have a key work, a work that is the start of a new path? She appears to have many key works. She shows one, a drawn work: a circle with four lobes, a kind of clover. “It has something transcendental, an opening to the All, the emptiness. It touches on the religious, the divine, a sense of infinity and boundlessness. The material earth is something temporary. And also forms of consciousness appear and disappear again. For a while I was very fascinated by quantum mechanics, which is about the behavior of matter and energy.”

elsa hartjesveld – 7

Does the title of the exhibition: ‘ES MALT’ have anything to do with this? Elsa: “We had several preliminary discussions for the exhibition. A comment from the Dutch artist Bram van Velde, working in Paris, then surfaced. In the documentary ‘Silence’ he talked about ‘waiting for the painting’. Agnes Martin, an American abstract painter, said in an interview that you really shouldn’t and can’t talk about painting. And the pianist Friedrich Gulda spoke of ‘…ich spiele nicht selbst, es spielt.’ We could identify with these statements. The title ES MALT! refers to the painting process in which you, as a painter, try to connect with something that seems to be outside you, the source that lets you paint what needs to be painted.”

elsa hartjesveld – 8

Something bigger than yourself
“I wait for the painting, the painting gives the answer. It’s not always like that. Sometimes it doesn’t flow, sometimes it does. Gulda was talking about something bigger than yourself, that’s how it should be. It’s about creating the right conditions to get to the feeling. Where things really go well, it almost happens automatically. As if it is already there, but has yet to emerge. I know what it feels like to have that condition, but getting there is often a struggle. Painting is also letting go and receiving. It can feel like something magical when things go right.”
Reflecting on it is also an important process, she adds. “Perhaps even more important than the making itself.”

elsa hartjesveld – 9

Sample cards
The exhibition featured many of her small paintings. She had made them on sample cards from the Karwei hardware store. “Those sample cards already had beautiful colors by themselves. It was a nice buddy. I could hold it. I had no beginning and no end, everything was allowed. I could make a work every day. I was steadily working on it. Surprising things happened. It felt like the period just after the Academy, that you try it out.”

elsa hartjesveld – 11

Elsa Hartjesveld graduated in 1992 from the Royal Academy in The Hague. She has been an artist for thirty years. She is currently working on an assignment for a number of large-format works à la ‘the Eye’.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest article are those of the author alone and do not represent those of the Marbella Marbella website. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with the author.


What did you think of this article?

The latest ideas for you to check out

The latest hits for you to check out