Barbara van den Berg

May 5, 2017 by Laura Gomez


Artist Interview:

Name: Barbara van den Berg

Age: 38
Birthday: 01-09- 1978

College: Visual Communication at School of Art and Design in Den Bosch, The Netherlands

How would you define yourself as an artist? As an eclectic artist, working with very different media and experimenting in diverse expressive languages.

Why art? How did you get involved with art? It’s my way to deal with the world. To express myself. I have to make things. As a child I lived in an almost perpetual state of observation, constantly fixated by human behaviour. My sensitivity to how we relate and interrelate has instilled a uniquely humanistic approach to making art.

What art do you most identify with? Art that is about the human, can be sculpture, painting, photography, theatre, could be anything.

What does “being creative” mean to you? Everything, it’s my way to express myself.

What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative? More ‘lummelen’, that’s a dutch expression, meens doing nothing, a few times a day, do nothing. Put your phone and laptop, paint or pen away and just stare at the garden and creativity will come to you.

What are you trying to communicate with your art? My art is always about the human and making contact. The message is revealed upon introspective examination. My works foster a dialogue amongst ourselves, delving into the measures of connectedness.

My artworks encourage a cathartic exploration of oneself and one’s relation to and with society. What stands out? How do you show your feelings? How do you communicate them?

What do you see as the strengths of your pieces, visually or conceptually? I try to make the combination an artwork is strong in his appearance, as well the story behind the piece. But I also like that people have their own thinking and feeling and coming up with their own sense of things. And this is probably different from what I feel and think.

I always work with series, I like to give a name to my series. The artworks strengthen each other. Humor is also important in my artworks and the colours I use.

What themes do you pursue? As a mother to two daughters, childhood has become a leitmotif in my body of work. I am inspired by their worlds of imagination, how an unabashed curiosity implores a fascinating path towards awareness through innocent bliss. It is this transition from pure naivety to experience that fascinates me. If you look at my artworks, you will always see people. Whether they are isolated or grouped together as a landscape of figures.

When I show people together, you find a paradox in color and image, born from the friction between what we show on the outside and an unrevealed inner human world. I play with this paradox, using bright, vivid colors, which leave an impression of happiness and celebration, in contrast to the figures, which inner world is turned inside out, embodied in extreme, absurd behaviour. The image reveals what is beneath the colorful surface without any shame or judgement. These artworks shows the absurdity of human existence.

What inspires you to work? Other artists, nature, this world and people how they walk, talk, live their lifes, what choices they make.

Color: depends where they are used for, I like the green of a new leave, but also the color of skin, for clothes I like navy blue, the white blond hair of my oldest daughter, the red of the cheecks of my youngest, all colors of flowers, the blue of the sky, the light when the sun is going down etc.

Book: The books of Haruki Murakami and Paul Auster

Movie: I love french movies from François Ozon, the movie Amélie, movies of David Lynch, and the Japanese animation movies.

Food: Thai and apple pie with whipped cream

Can we talk a bit about your process at the beginning of a project? How do you conceive of it? How do you build it in your mind before you start? In the beginning of a new series I do a lot of things exept start making, I am very good at postponing. I need that time to let the idea, the feeling grow. I also go to musea, theatre and see a lot of artworks on the internet. I can take weeks, but when I start to make things, I can not stop. When I am making things, the idea gets clearer in my mind and gets a story and a name.

What Role does the artist have in society? Artist let us see in a new way the things we already know or do. Art inspires us, wakes up, makes us happy, open our minds, makes us angry, irritates, ask questions. We need art and creativity in our lives.

Do you suffer for your art? I don’t, sometimes I struggle a lot when I start a new project, ask myself a lot of questions, but it is part of making art for me.

Should art be funded? Why? At school it should be. In The netherlands their is less and less money for art projects in school , which I regret a lot. I think art is essential to our well-being and is often a direct reflection of who we are. I think also that artist have to learn how to run their bussiness and learn how to make their money themselves. If artist have big social projects it should be funded.

What famous artists have influenced you, and how? One of my favorite artist is Marlene Dumas. When I look at her work, it always hits me, it’s extremely powerfull. There are so much emotions in it. It is always about the human. She uses beautifull colours and there is a lot of movement in the paint. You find always something new.

Also Egon Shiele, the beautiful, vulnerable way he draws. Frieda Kahlo, because she is such a strong woman and artist. Ensor, the way he shows people, I like the roughness and the masks they wear. And the sculptures of Maria Rubinke, the way she shows transiency in het sculptures.

What other interests do you have outside of art? I like to read. I love being in nature, I have a beautifull garden where I spent time in as much as possible. And I have two young daughters, one is 6 and my youngest is 3 years old. So I spent a lot of time with them. I love to paint, draw and make things with them. And yoga.

You seem to be very aware of the history of works. Where do you see films, photo exhibitions, art perfomances today? I’ll do all that, and I love to go to the theatre. My sister is theatre maker and mime player. Ones we did a performance together at an opening of one of my exhibitions at Public House of Art.

How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art? I think no one can take that away from me, creativity is in everyone. When I couldn’t paint or make things with my hands, I should find a way to do it otherwise.

some short questions now…

Colours: all the colours of the world

Textures: paint, clay, nature, paper…

Describe your style; …Define yourself… Navy blue, light grey, white clothes, brunette (with a little grey ;-), positive human being.

Define your art: I alternate large format paintings to graphic design, drawing, hand lettering and digital collage. My approach is constantly evolving, changing in tone from humorous to dark, from powerful chromatic compositions to very stylised black and white drawings and illustrations.

Art Fairs: The Public House of Art, the store where my artwork is exhibited, is going to a lot of Artfairs all over the world. A lot of Affortable artfairs like AAF Hong Kong, AAF Hampstead, AAF NY, AAF Stockholm, AAF Amsterdam, AAF Hamburg, AAF Singapore. But also Scope Miami, Kunstrai, AAF Battersea, Art Athina, Art Southampton and many more.

Museums: Stedelijk Museum en Foam Amsterdam, Kunsthal en Booijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, de Pont in Tilburg.

Cities: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Tokyo, Berlin, and I love to go to New York some day.

Travels: I was ones for 24 hours in Tokyo, amazing city, so much to see, it made more impression on me than the 4 weeks traveling in new Zealand.

Artists: Mark Ryden, Maria Rubinke, Ron Mueck, Will Kurtz, Ruud van Empel, Guim Tio, Lola Dupre, Paula Rego, Egon Shiele and many more.

Music: Jazz

Cars: old cars

Who are the artist’s you admire the most? Artist who dare to make what they have to make, do not make concessions because of money or what people like. Dare to outstand.

What are your next projects? I am experimenting with different kind of materials, like clay, paper and plastic. I want to make some sculptures. And I am still making digital collages from worldleaders as a child.

Define Klassik Magazine for the audience? I love it!