Annette Nieukerk, mixed media in praise of older women
Now in her fifth decade of art practice, Annette has had a varied career spanning disciplines, media and genre. As a young artist, she depicted the prairie landscape using silkscreen printing as her medium of choice. Then in mid career, Annette became passionately involved in theatre design and followed that path for many years while still maintaining her role as an art educator. Today she works out of a studio in East Vancouver utilizing a variety of mixed painting and drawing media employing the human figure as the focus of her practice. Working both from life and from photographs, Annette seeks to expose not only that which is obvious in the sitter’s physical form, but also to explore the layering of individual narrative – the stories of experience and lives lived.
Annette’s main artistic focus utilizes the human form as imagery. In her figurative work she is primarily interested in the narratives which are at the heart of human existence. Every human being has their own story; every human body has their own unique experiences, passions, dreams and desires. This commonality of the human condition and this diversity, the dichotomy between the universal and the individual, is explored through both the layering and the exposing of figurative forms utilizing a variety of painting and drawing techniques as well as mixed media. What are our stories? What is factual and what has been eroded by memory? What is hidden? What are our secrets? Annette’s work speaks to the intricacies and layering of those narratives and how what is known or exposed to view and what is hidden from view are both reflected in the physicality of our bodies. Utilizing a variety of contrasting media – drawing ink, graphite, enamel, oil or acrylic paint, translucent mylar, watercolour paper, image transfers, etc. – she works at exposing the inner narrative of each human figure.
In praise of older women
In this latest series, in addition to portraying the inner narrative of each human figure, Annette attempts to illustrate the inner resilience and strength that many women have as they age. As with the previous series, you dance inside my chest, walnut drawing ink, graphite, and oil paint on translucent mylar have been utilized. Here the rich brown of the walnut ink is reminiscent of both flesh and the decay of the flesh as the ink dissipates upon meeting the slick surface of the mylar. Graphite, which added a solidity of form to the previous work, has been reduced here to emphasize the increasing lack of solidity in the aging form. Prominence is given instead to the use of translucent oil paint coming from within the form itself adding a simple spiritual component, an inner light. Often these colours are added to the part of the body that corresponds to the colour of the chakras, or vital energy centres in our body according to tantric traditions. The use of vintage magazine transfers is a new element that has been added to these images for additional narrative and depth. As the human body clearly begins to show the passage of time, the inner light of the female human spirit appears to strengthen. Annette’s aim is to illustrate that these women lived their stories, grew strength from them, and ultimately transcended them.
you dance inside my chest
Utilizing highly contrasting media in this body of work – walnut drawing ink, graphite, enamel or oil paint, and coloured acetate on translucent mylar – Annette strives to expose the inner narratives of each human figure. The subtlety, the fluidity and the warm richness of the walnut ink is reminiscent of flesh itself, while the graphite adds solidity to both form and content. The enamel or oil paint adds boldness, colour and life. and the translucency of the mylar enables the layering of all of the media and elements allowing the viewer that peek into the intricate human form and the story held within.