Fly With Me: The Artwork Of Anne Van Borselen
Published 01 December 2008
Hailing from a long line of painters, there was never any question about what Anne Van Borselen was going to do with her life. This prolific artist has been described as “a ball of energy,” – full of fantasy and passion.
Text by Rachel Love
My paintings come straight out of my head,” says Anne van Borselen, artist in residence at Jenggala Keramik. “I see the white canvas and I go. I then work as if I am in a trance and the result is always a surprise. In fact, afterwards, I often wonder what might have prompted me to create a particular image. I never analyse the meanings behind my pictures, I let other people analyse and – that way – my painting will become their fantasy, although most people seem to require an explanation.”
Delightfully eccentric and gorgeously eclectic, this Indonesian-born Dutch artist comes from a family of painters. Her mother was a painter, and the famous Indonesian artist, Imeria Sunassa, was also on her mother’s side of the family. While on her father’s side, great great grandfather, J.W. van Borselen (1825-1892), was a landscape painter to King William III from The Netherlands.
Anne has been an artist since she was five years old. She studied at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and Rotterdam, and her work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and at solo exhibitions in Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and in Bali at Jenggala, Amanusa, Amankila, and the Conrad. She has also painted a lot of wall murals and panels as well as sculptures for permanent installation.
“My parents were anxious that I should have a real job as well as being a painter because it’s not always easy for an artist to make money,” Anne reflects, “So after training at the academy, I did one extra year and gained a teaching diploma, but I was never really interested in teaching. To have the commitment and passion to teach others is quite a different talent; you have to have a gift to be a teacher and that’s just not me.”
Anne loves drawing faces and she adores birds. “I once had a very bad tempered cockatoo and he inspired me; I love birds and their freedom to fly.” Her work is always figurative with “Some funny abstract things.” Most of her paintings feature realistic classical heads – some, perhaps, with random limbs, one arm and a feathered wing –mixed up with some cartoon-like drawings of humans, animals, birds and mythical creatures. She loves people watching; she often studies individual faces as they pass by on the street, and thinks, “Now that would make a good cartoon.” This has been her style all of her life.
While Anne often chooses to paint abstract and fantasy imagery, the important factor is that she studied anatomy. She explains, “I learnt about every muscle and every bone in the body, and how each one worked. After mastering anatomy, an artist should be able to draw a simple linear face which, at the same time, will be strong and realistic, because it has the bones and the structure behind it. Not everybody wants to go to art school and learn the basics from the beginning, but it’s the best grounding an artist can ever have. Anatomy and all of those exacting things can be boring and yet very exciting. It’s a bit like being a surgeon,” she laughs, “a surgeon must learn how our insides work – otherwise he won’t be able to open us up! With painting it is the same, you must learn the basics, the colours – everything.”
Asked how and where she finds her inspiration, Anne likens the process to going for a drive in a car and seeing things passing by, as in a very quick film. “Some of these images go into my head, and remain in my memory bank. And then, when I paint, it all comes out and I don’t know why or where from. Often, I see a face and I will later recall it and paint it. I mentally photograph everything I see and store it inside of my head. In fact, my head is really full, and sometimes I just have to get it out, which is why I do so many paintings. I can paint all day, and all week,” she enthuses, “I’m having so much fun, I forget about time, calendars, clocks and taking breaks; I just can’t stop painting!”
This delightful and highly talented artist has been coming to Bali for 30 years. Although based in Amsterdam, she has been Jenggala’s regular artist in residence for eight years. On her recent, three-month visit, she chose wings as the theme of her solo exhibition; collaborating with the Jenggala craftspeople to work on some magnificent glass and ceramic wing sculptures, which she designed, carved and painted. She also created a series of ceramic masks, inspired by antique masks from Bali, Java and Kalimantan; “I thought they were so comical that I simply had to make my own”. These, together with her whimsical paintings and “funny freeforms” are showcased in ‘Fly with Me’. The exhibition runs at Jenggala until 16th January 2009. Additionally, much of Anne’s limited-edition hand-painted tableware pieces are on display and for sale in the Jenggala showroom.
Jl. Uluwatu II, Jimbaran
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