Persona December, 8th 2022 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 392 - Wilma Laarakker

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 392 – Wilma Laarakker
At the Pop-up Gallery in NDSM FUSE in Amsterdam I saw a large blue work that gave me a glimpse into the universe. At least, that could be it. I saw distant planets, white dots, even some clouds and the white trails left by meteorites.
It was composed of 25 A4 sized blueprints pushed together. Overlaying the universe view was a red grid-like framework with rectangular lines, a large sphere, and a number of small spheres. The work is called ‘meeting points’. It is composed with mixed graphic techniques such as drypoint, stamping technique, template and blueprint.

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Artistic family
I see the work on the wall of Wilma Laarakker in her studio on the Kloveniersburgwal in Amsterdam. It is a spacious studio with light from the north.
On a table are a number of books with her art and various drawings, paintings and objects hang on the wall.
Wilma comes from an artistic family. In addition to an eldest sister who plays the piano, her sisters Tiny and Lea are also into art: Tiny makes ceramic wall and floor objects. As a textile artist, Lea designs fabrics as well as autonomous objects and banners. Apart from their own exhibitions, the three of them have done several exhibitions, both at home and abroad, including in Groningen, Amsterdam, Bangkok and Singapore. At the time – 2004 – The Bangkok Times opened an article about their work with the text “There’s nothing Chekhovian about these three sisters …” And that said a lot!

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From the age of 13 to the age of 18/19, there were practically daily painting and drawing lessons from Angèle de Spiegelaere, a descendant of a Belgian artist family. She was at a boarding school at the time. Later she followed her professional training in Amsterdam.

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Wilma actually has too many ideas, she says. “It runs in like a ringing cash register. That is not nice at all, because of that I am very inclined to jump from subject to subject.” To avoid that, she concentrates on one subject, one theme. She often makes a workbook for this, initially as a guideline for herself: “that makes working orderly and then I can better immerse myself in the work.”
She shows a large book, in which the series ‘Coming Home’ can be seen. “This started with emptying the dirty brushes. There is always something interesting in those smudges and that continues to develop. I do not want to commit myself to one style, but it remains unmistakably my hand. Figuration or abstraction is irrelevant, I want to bring life to the material used and to the image, to what I want to make.”

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My little Red Herrings
In the period 2017-2020, Wilma made more than a hundred small drawings with red colored pencils. The idea was to bring as much nuance to a drawing as possible with one color.
“It flowed naturally from my hands; it calmed me down. Making these drawings led me astray, so to speak, a pleasant distraction from a spinning head and busy thoughts. The series was called ‘My Little Red Herrings’. This is an English name for the technique of distracting someone, it comes from the hunt: they threw a stinking red herring in the path of the dogs to put them on another track.”
A selection of these drawings is on actual size – 15×15 cm. published in the booklet ‘My little Red Herrings’. (ISBN: 978 90 806676 2 4)

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The Vijlen Forest (Vijlenerbos)
We walk past the works. There are large black drawings, heavy vertical and horizontal lines. “I made this work in the period that I was also working on the tartans. (A tartan is Scottish fabric pattern, tied to a Clan.) During that period in 2020 there were terrible floods in Limburg. During a forest walk in that area, the Vijlen Forest, I saw the grasses and branches, and sometimes even tree trunks, lying flat on the ground. This work, Siberian chalk on paper, is a reflection of that. If you see the lines running, they are actually tartans too. That is why this work, together with the series of paintings, was part of one exhibition entitled ‘Tartans’ in the Artspace of Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam.

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Veers Licht 2.0
There is a poster on the wall of a recent exhibition ‘Veers Licht 2.0’, in which 18 artists from the Dutch Circle of Draughtsmen (Nederlandse Kring van Tekenaars) participate. This exhibition was recently to be seen in Museum Veere, location The Scottish Houses, two connected 17th century buildings. In this exhibition Wilma showed a number of smaller drawings and a large tile plateau of 42 drawings on paper. The sparkling Veere light is depicted in this drawing. “In Zeeland you have very special light. Mondriaan c.s. already knew this at the beginning of the last century. That has everything to do with the large salt crystals in water.”

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Don’t waste the leftovers
In the current working period, the masking tape, which was used in the Tartans series, serves as basic material for new work, it is a preparation for an exhibition and a publication. Schedule 2023.
“The tapes I used for the Tartans series looked so beautiful after use that it was a shame to throw them away. That’s why I used them for the ‘tape drawings’ and that was the start of the new series ‘Don’t waste the leftovers’. This series will include more works that originate from remains and disposable materials of other work. I now want to continue with that, I will see what comes my way, that gives me the ultimate freedom to develop this theme.”

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On a shelf under the window and everywhere on the wall there are found objects that she has given her own twist to, such as a boy’s head with a crest: “I found a nice hook that I put on top of that head, it looks like a curl ” -, or a knot with sawn-off twigs whose sawn surfaces are brightly colored -, mossy branches, axes of wood, stone and rope, screws and nails, etc. The resulting objects are permanently in stock at Galerie Wonderwood in Amsterdam.

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Sol LeWitt
Does Wilma have a nice concluding philosophical conclusion?

She has. “I would like to quote the sculptor Sol LeWitt who once said: ‘A portrait is never the one that is drawn, but if you draw a line, you have created something’.”

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1)Meeting Points, Mixed graphic-media, 150 x 100cm, 2022, 2) In the exhibition NDSM-Fuse Amsterdam, 3) Tartans, Mixed Media on paper, 20×30 cm, 4) Tartans, Oil on canvas, 12 x 20cm, 5) Another Tartan, Oil on canvas, 50x50cm, 6) “Light”, Little Red Herrings, 7) “Wast now?”, Little Red Herrings, 8) Het Vijlenerbos, Siberian Chalk on paper, 50x50cm, 2021, 9) Coming Home, Paint residues with Siberian chalk on paper, 10) portrait Wilma Laarakker . 

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