‘In my work I suggest that it looks like something it is not’

Bobby Veldhuizen does not like rectangular paintings. She uses them, but prefers to create a more exciting shape with a jigsaw or laser cutter. Many of her paintings are oval. If they were small pebbles, they would skim well above the water.

Even harder to pin down is what she paints on the panels. Occasionally it is recognizable as a human body or two in a tangle, but more often it remains indefinable. This is not to say that these are not compositions where lines, shapes and colors tell a story. Although the interpretation remains mainly a feeling.

“I have nothing against rectangles, but a more organic shape is a better starting point,” says Bobby Veldhuizen (27), who graduated this summer at Rietveld in Amsterdam. “I always try to start from a different point. This can be a form, a material or a type of paint or an operation with a sander of a previous work. Before I started painting, I filled one of the canvases in the exhibition as a kind of pillow.”

She never has an end goal in mind. “We have to wait and see what happens to the material, how the paint dries, how everything reacts to each other. That unpredictability makes it interesting to me. For the last show I took a central motif: wrestlers and matches, but otherwise there must be as much room as possible for experimentation.”

Veldhuizen is not interested in wrestling. “But in the ambiguity of the movements. You can tell it’s a fight, but not whether it’s violent or loving.” What she paints is a chaos of lines where a body is sometimes visible. “In my work, I suggest that it looks like something it is not. But nothing is completely abstract. There is always a relationship to something, an ambiguity.”

Cobweb-like forms appear regularly on her canvases. “A web is a network that holds things together,” says Veldhuizen. She explains that there is a connection with the theories of the French educator Fernand Deligny, who in the 1960s worked with autistic children and was admired by philosophers such as Guattari and Deleuze. “Deligny was fascinated by spiders and cobwebs and argued that people relate to their environment through networks.”

Bobby Veldhuizen, Airlines(100 x 120 cm.)

Photo Bobby Veldhuizen

Veldhuizen admires the activist art movement Situationists, except on one point. “They were inspiringly anti-commercial, and I agree that life and art are connected and that everyday life can be revolutionary. But they also insisted that painting is a bourgeois art form. I was a little worried about that. And also at the academy I was often encouraged to try something other than painting. But painting can certainly be revolutionary, there are still plenty of new possibilities in painting. They just shout like ‘punk is dead’. The painting also renews itself all the time!”

Next year, Bobby Veldhuizen wants to get a place on De Atelier’s further education. “This year I’m going away from the Netherlands for a while. Looking around Sweden, Germany, Portugal and looking at art everywhere. And painting!”

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