Hesther Van Doornum

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Hesther van Doornum

Education Hogeschool voor de Kunsten (University of Arts), Amsterdam, NL | Artemis Styling Academy, Amsterdam, NL | Cultural Management at Art & Co, Amsterdam, NL | Member of the BKKC ( Brabant Knowledge Centre for Art & Culture) | Member of the NABK (National Association of Expressive Artists | Member of Pictoright | Her work is included in both business and private collections around the world.

During my study at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten I discovered what for me was the most ideal way to express my creativity; and painting became my discipline. Since then I have developed my own combination of techniques and materials making my work highly recognizable. They have a distinctive straight, jagged and tangible horizontal and vertical structure in their backgrounds. The brush stroke is tangible and visible due to the accumulation of paint through the use of palette knives in combination with thickened paint (sometimes using fine sand). This, and the application of sometimes ten layers of paint, creates deeper colours and an extra dimension. By scratching with a palette knife or the back of a brush in the wet or half-dry paint layers, I give my work a dynamic effect. The works show various hues of the colours used: from bright red to brown, from ochre to gold, from oxide black to moon silver. The colours are mixed both on the canvas and on the palette. The combination of structure and the use of metallic colours (various shades of gold, silver and bronze) give the paintings a depth and a different look at various times of the day or with different light.
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Throughout the years my work has developed from figurative to a more abstract approach to my subjects. People, particularly women and their portraits, are central in my paintings. Their open stance exudes their vulnerability as well as their strength. This is reinforced by their transparency; the figures more or less flow into the background. In this way the backgrounds in my work play an equally important role; this way of working with space emphasizes my search for the identity of my subjects. The compositions, colours and poses personify conscious and subconscious archetypes; they symbolize the search for the inner self and thereby serve as metaphors for the various aspects of life, such as love, sadness, silence and tranquillity. Emotions, experiences and life stories can be clearly recognized in this imagery.
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“It is particularly the search prior to making the work that is so fascinating. I hear, think, feel, dream and see. Those experiences stay with me during the creative process and that to me remains challenging, inspiring and enriching.”

I always work in series in order to fully develop a theme. These series are the result of a key work, such as ‘Mother Earth’ resulted in the series ‘the Elements’ and ‘Confront’ resulted in the series ‘All Blacks’.

For example, my series ‘All Blacks’: From a black basis I wanted to build up the subjected with as little colour as possible; suggestive, with contained tension. In order to do this I moved away from my preferred colours which was a challenge in itself…. Despite the sober colours of these series (from mars black to grey, from warm gold to moonlight silver) the work is still recognizably mine due to the use of lines created by the palette knife, the building up of layers, the use of space and the subject: the powerful vulnerability of women. As with my other works the subject flows into the background… unaware of the onlookers, at ease as she is almost invisible.
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Another example of why I like to work in series is ‘Faces’, which is a series of uncommissioned portraits; abstracted faces. There was a period when I painted female figures without faces and I knew then that the missing faces would eventually need to be painted. I am now working on these. Each of these faces shows a different emotion, partly hidden in the abstraction. These could be linked to the figures from the series ‘The Elements’. Faces I for example could be the face of ‘Mother Earth’. She faces the world openly and without fear. Faces II could be the face of the angel in ‘Sky’; the tranquillity.

I work both on a commission and non-commission basis.

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