Persona December, 3rd 2021 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 343 - Rieja van Aart

rieja van aart – 1

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 343 – Rieja van Aart
Rieja van Aart showed her photos in Gallery WM, Amsterdam during the exhibition ‘Still Lifes’. She photographs scenes that she installs herself using simple materials such as paper, fabric and feathers. When the right moment comes, the natural light optimal, she records the scenes.
I speak with Rieja van Aart on one of the last days of the exhibition in the gallery. She has left France for a week, where she lives with her partner on a converted farm in Touraine, in the Loire region. She has a large studio there where she takes her photos. She works in the afternoon, because that is when the light comes in nicely.

rieja van aart – 2

With that light, the constructed scene takes on a deeper dimension. The light can come from behind, from the front, from the left or from the right, it is different for every scene. All the photos are about landscapes, she says, her inner landscapes. In some photos this is evident, see her desert and mountain landscapes, made of paper and light, for others it is not immediately visible.

rieja van aart – 3

Her series of ballerinas are also about inner landscapes. “I record what I feel.” We look at her photo ‘Dans I’ from 2020. “They are the ballerinas of a ballet dancer from Eastern Europe. She told about her profession that on the one hand is physically very heavy and painful. But on the other hand, it’s uplifting, euphoric. You will find that mixed feeling in many facets of your life!”

rieja van aart – 4

Swan wings
She also knows those euphoric feelings when an image is successful. We walk past her pictures with swan wings. She got two swan wings from an artist who couldn’t do anything with them himself. “Maybe you can work with it.” She did. “To me they were like a couple living together, taking care of each other.” She found surprising combinations, with the masterpiece ‘Cygne 43’, where the wings are intertwined in yellow, gray and white tones.

rieja van aart – 5

Ostrich feather
She has another series – the Maät series – with an ostrich feather. Maät was an Egyptian goddess, the personification of the cosmic order; of harmony, truth and justice. One of the photos refers to a myth in which Maät considers a person’s life at the end of his life. With a human heart on a scale in one bowl and an ostrich feather in the other bowl. If the person in question had led a good life, the scales remained in balance, after a bad life the heart went down.

rieja van aart – 6

There’s life in it
They are still lifes, ‘Still Lifes’. In France, where she exhibits regularly, the term is ‘nature morte’. But that doesn’t quite cover the charge of her photography. “That term is too dead. I’m just giving new life to things that don’t seem to matter anymore.” So also in France it is ‘Still Lifes’, there is still life in it. She wants to bring emotion and creation together with her art.

rieja van aart – 7

Rieja van Aart attended the Art Academy for a number of years. She did that in Antwerp. But she always doubted whether she wanted to be an artist or a journalist. At some point she switched to journalism, when she was able to become an apprentice journalist for her regional daily newspaper in the south of the country. She did not want to give up art, so she took lessons at the St. Joost academy in Breda and took up photography. On Sunday, the rest of the week was for work. After a while she became a journalist and later chief editor of magazines such as Yes, Nouveau and Cosmopolitan.

rieja van aart – 8

“That was a challenging, tough job. I supervised the content, directed journalists, photographers and graphic artists and put myself at the service of the readers, trying to match what they expected from the magazine. And of course, the commercial aspects also had to be taken into account.” At a certain point she wanted to get more time for the things that interested her herself, to make what she wanted to see for herself. She therefore left the magazine world and became a full-time art photographer.
And that happened, in France. Her work developed. It is always about still lifes, but within that she works on different series. She finds inspiration in, for example, dance, voodoo, myth or landscape. From time to time she returns to her earlier work, choosing elements that, according to experts in her work, are reminiscent of her first images.

rieja van aart – 9

What is her experience within art life?
“It’s what you choose. Some colleagues do not like to exhibit. I always like exhibitions. Half the time you are busy organizing it: finding a gallery, putting it in frames, etc. Although I have an agent, you still have to go after it yourself. I am very happy with galleries where I can show my work. I think it is important to have a good relationship with the gallery owners.”
She also finds it important to have a good relationship with her village. She now has an excellent command of the French language – “I think and dream in French” – and she is even a member of the village council.

Finally, what is her philosophy?
“To perform art you have to have a kind of bedevilment. You have to want to keep working and develop. But you have to balance that with the rest of your life. That makes you a nicer person. I want my life to be in harmony, with art having an important place in it.”
1) Inner landscape 19, 2) Paper 7, 3) Paper 17, 4) Inner landscape 12, 5) Maät 18, 6) Maät 15, 7) Maät 8, 8) Dance 1, 9) Dance 5, 10) Inner landscape 018



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