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Selected Artists - Drawing prize 2018

Daniel et Florence Guerlain

Juul Kraijer

Juul Kraijer was born in 1970 in Assen, the Netherlands.
She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Rotterdam, where she lives and works. In 1995,
She had her first solo show at Gele Rijder, Arnhem. In 2017, her work has been seen at the Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography, Amsterdam; at the Galerie Papillon, Paris, and at Stedelijk Museum Schiedam. Her works feature in the Centre Pompidou, the Louis Vuitton Foundation and the Florence and Daniel Guerlain Collection (Paris), the MoMA (New York), and the Museum Moderner Kunst (Vienna).
She is represented by Galleria Monica De Cardenas (Milan et Zuoz) and Vadehra Art Gallery (New Dehli).
Photo : ©UMA VALLIATHU.

Subjects simply impose themselves for some artists, without leaving them with a feeling of having made a choice. In Juul Kraijer’s case, the themes of human faces and bodies thus emerged as soon as she began drawing and have never been abandoned. Since the first sheets she produced over twenty years ago, or even longer if her teenage drawings are taken into account, this Dutch artist has never tired of her countless depictions of the human fgure, which could well evoke the term of impressions that haunt her. Mainly executed in charcoal, or pencil on white or coloured paper, occasionally heightened with watercolour, the human body is shown in all its spiritual and intellectual dimensions. Each position has been carefully observed, together with various metamorphoses and transformations, which make reference to her in-depth study of art history. Juul Kraijer grew up in an environment in which the classics and Antiquity were part of daily life. Even today, she still draws inspiration from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Yet, paradoxically, she admits that, apart from non-Western art, she has a distinct preference for the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, “before Raphael’s perfection made its appearance, when forms were still naïve and style could attest to a somewhat awkward character.” Her own drawings may take her a year to complete and are executed with intense concentration, revealing a strong sense of detail. Juul Kraijer’s work derives from the “mental pictures” and associations of ideas that suddenly come to mind. It has sometimes been related to a type of Symbolism or to the literature of Gustave Flaubert or William Blake. That is one possible interpretation, notably when she decides to whisk the spectator into an undefined temporality. But everyday life and the beauty of a face once glimpsed moves her just as much as a Buddhist mask or a pre-Columbian artwork. Her drawings are not intended to convey any specific message, except perhaps the desire to transcend our mortal coils. What may insinuate itself is the idea of death and decay, hence the idea of a contemporary vanitas, but what fascinates the artist more is the cosa mentale of the human body and face. How then can an artist lead an entire career based on themes which lack a central core? “For me, they are not subjects, but devices that allow me to explore what really matters, in other words, the human being and transcendence.”