I am fascinated and deeply affected by the power and effect of colour. Textile and colour are the prime media in my installations. I try to make an image you cannot describe, and which gives new experience and meaning to the space.
Textile is tactile. Using textile as carrier of colour in installations adds a sensorial layer to the space that suggests a connection with our everyday life, and very naturally merges painting, architecture and fashion.
People, both mentally and in terms of physical scale, have always been central to my concept. In my installations I use textile very simply, much in the way that it is used in daily life. I often use hand-woven rugs of my own design, blankets covering a bed, fabric mounted onto walls and, recently, those same blankets draped over the human figure.
Objects that I also deploy as artistic objects. Using fabrics in installations in such a familiar way invites visitors to enter and recognise the space, experiencing it afresh, charged with new meaning.
Using textile to introduce colour into an installation can evoke intimate associations. That kind of space echoes a personal desire for well-being. I am always searching for a new image and, with this, new experiences and meanings in art. Images you might not know, but which resonate with you, allowing you to escape everyday reality for just a moment.
In 1997, I made a book of fabric samples. A little later, I began applying them to directly to walls, often in the public domain. The first time I mounted swatches of fabric straight onto the wall was for a commission in 2000, in the lobby of the Fonds BKVB in Amsterdam. In recent years, I have alternated commissioned public art projects with autonomous installations.
In addition to my palette of primarily bright, fluorescent colours, I have also introduced a different palette. One that consists more of composite hues and motifs printed on fabric. With this, I endeavour to explore the effect of colour and pattern on an image, and the role colour plays in shaping the image, in addition to the use of textile in my installations.
The appearance of the human figure is another new element in these installations. My work has always been based on the human form and scale. A consequence of installations integrating everyday items such as blanket-layered beds, a swing covered with blankets and cushions and rugs upon the floor, makes the appearance of the human figure now a natural progression. In most instances, I use a mannequin, another over-familiar tool from the garment and textile world.
I’ve noticed that it takes viewers a little effort to arrive at an artistic translation of this human form. Once the head is draped in fabric, in the same way I cover entire walls and beds with blankets and textile, viewers rapidly tend to give it a specific interpretation. A figure entirely enveloped in cloth often conjures up connotations of women wearing the burka. And with this, a link to social and political discussions. Of course, I also play upon this confusion and the various visual meanings this image can elicit. I find it fascinating that such a range of interpretations can be sparked so easily by the organisation of textile. It throws into clear focus where a purely visual experience touches on associations with reality. And this renews my awareness of the power of textile as medium. A medium that everyone instantly recognises and that, within a fine art context, continues to behave idiosyncratically both as reality and carrier of tactility and colour. This is what I am currently working on. I have discovered so much that stems naturally from my concept, and is a challenging continuation of it.
A documentary on my work has also recently been released, made by Heddy Honigmann as part of the series Hollandse Meesters in de 21ste eeuw, September 2012, produced by Interakt, Amsterdam