Persona April, 18th 2024 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 462 - Emma van Drongelen

emma van drongelen – 1

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 462 – Emma van Drongelen
I was impressed by a large work by Emma van Drongelen that was recently shown at the Pop-up Forest exhibition in Kunstruim in Amsterdam. It was a long canvas, about 1.5 by 5.5 meters, of a large group of wolves, leaping and running forward. Twigs jump up and some animals are translucent, through the skin you can see another wolf.

emma van drongelen – 2

When I visit Emma a few weeks later in her squatting studio on the outskirts of the city, on the Spaarne, she says that a it can be a pack, but not necessarily so. I already thought so, because there are no little ones and no clear leader. “They are eight running wolves, but maybe it is just one, moving?”. Just below the ceiling hang the first wolf drawings, in pencil, on a piece of paper from a notepad. She made 100.

emma van drongelen – 3

Life energy
Emma: “It came from a sketch, they were little wolves. Last year I was going to make it big.” I look carefully at the large work again and see between the wolves pieces of a map, pages from a medical encyclopedia, twigs below and above them and a connecting thread through all the wolves. “It’s about the energy of the group, life energy, flow,” she explains. “Everything is connected and flows through each other, just as in life everything is connected. You see right through the animals. They just go their own way, breaking boundaries set by people.”

emma van drongelen – 4

The work is called Aeolus, after the (Greek) God of the wind. She has also created a weatherproof version that has been on display in the open air and is in need of patching up after the wind and storm it has been subjected to. The work has been exhibited three times. “It does affect people. Because of the energy, the speed and the life energy.”

emma van drongelen – 5

Discussion about the wolf
The wolf is a theme in society. Ten years ago there were no wolves in the Netherlands and now there are several dozen. “There is discussion about the wolf, but the wolf is there in our country. Some people have difficulty with the animal running around freely outside our control. Opponents say that proponents romanticize the wolf. For me, the wolf represents all aspects of life.”

emma van drongelen – 7

The mystery of life
Emma van Drongelen’s work always features an animal, a person and nature. “For me it’s about the connection between the small and the big picture. There are apparent contradictions, but there is also overlap. At the interface where things touch each other, it is about life and death, good and evil. You can’t explain it properly. It is the mystery of life. I try to touch that in my drawings.”
She is curious about what life is, she says. “The wonder of it. The incomprehensible. You can’t quite understand it. I try to touch what cannot be touched: the mystical.”

emma van drongelen – 9

Fine lines
I take a tour of her large room. On the tables – where she often works – I see drawings of deer, animal figures, a bear, owls, snakes. Owls have grabbed snakes from a snake pit. She is now working on swans. It is drawn on canvas. Everything figurative. Most fine lines. One thing flows into the other.
A little further on there are books related to the theme: Metamorphoses by Ovid, Mythos by Stephen Fry. And the bookcase contains even more books, most of them about nature. “In the old stories, people transform into animals. It is mysterious, things are not only beautiful and fun, but sometimes also cruel. Life and death are close together. Ovidius does inspire me. I used to go to grammar school, so I know the stories.”

emma van drongelen – 10

In the corner are elongated pencil drawings of reclining women. One of them was also on display in Amsterdam. The women have surrendered to wild nature, with various irises. They are fine lines. Deditionem / surrender, the work is called. “It is drawn on watercolor paper, each of the works in the series has a subtitle. It’s nice to once show them all together.”

emma van drongelen – 11

Emma graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 2005. Since then she has worked as an artist and art teacher. So for almost 20 years. She also works at the Artis (Zoo) studios – where Jacqueline Lamme and Nanna Lahn also work, also participants in the Pop up Bos expo. See an interview with them elsewhere on this site. She recently started teaching at the Haarlem Art Academy and also gives a course in Bennebroek to adults.
There is mainly drawing. “I want people to discover what it is and what you can do with it. Drawing is a very direct medium, it comes directly from within and you transfer it to paper with a simple material such as pencil or chalk. In Artis I draw animals. I teach two children’s groups and I also do the coordination. There are 500 students there per season.”

emma van drongelen – 12

She regularly participates in exhibitions, often with a group of artists. Such as the Pop up Forest exhibition. She has also had a solo exhibition.
Finally, what is her philosophy?
“My work is about my wonder about life. The beauty, the questions it raises and the mystery.”
1 – 3) Aeolus I 2023 5.50 x 1.65 m, 4) Aeolus I, 2023, detail, various materials on canvas, 5) Aeolus II Vogelenzangse Bos, 6) Inter saxa, 2019, 1.70 x 1.18 cm, pencil on paper, 7) Emma van Drongelen, 8) Subcutaneous VIII in frame, 9) butterfly (on hand), 10) Gnash, 75 x 100 cm, pencil on paper

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