BIONIC PEOPLE: DEGANN (ANNE de GROOT)
In undertaking the Bionic People interview, Amsterdam based artist Degann (Anne de Groot) explains the role feelings and connections play in the thought process she uses to create her works of contemporary art. We have featured a small selection of her work at the end of the interview. However do visit www.degann.com to view the collections, including the latest watercolour series: Family. The site also provides highly informative narrative by the artist to accompany her work.
DEGANN also known as Anne de Groot(b. 1989) graduated in 2011 from Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Amsterdam. As an artist my paintings and watercolours are vivid and aesthetically liable images that sometimes disguise an atrabilious element. Mental vulnerability and transience are central themes in the work. The multiple layers in the paintings create an elusive form. Like light, the works are simultaneously fleeting and present. This corresponds with my perception of paintings as breathing organisms. This is why they are not made as mere artistic statements, but originate from a sincerely felt inner necessity. I search for shapes that intrigue and convince me. In my portraits I do not paint faces, but heads, which for me creates a different sense of intimacy. I see the face as a structured spatial order covering the head, which houses the soul.
I don’t work towards mimesis but towards a possible temporary essence of the portrayed, which is often introspective and removed. The transparency of the layers of paint creates discolorations on the surface. These aqueous spots that deform the shape of the heads approach that what is inside, the intimacy of the sitter’s spirit.
What drew you to your passion/interest?
Drawing on an young age always made me happy. This pure feeling is still there when I make a painting, sometimes it frustrates me, but most of the time it makes me love it more and more.
It’s difficult to know if you achieve what you intended.
Was there a particular moment in your life that you ‘discovered’ or fell in love with your
I aim at capturing the feeling that emerges when I look at things. It is an investigation to the elevated “I” that knows more than I know. With ink I have been sketching this feeling repeatedly, getting nearer to its essence every time. It can be found in the introvert soul that stares at me, shining through the gaze of absence of the portrayed.
The black ink I have purposely chosen is representative of the layers of the individual, there is more to it than just darkness. By trying to catch the abstract concept of a feeling, I seek to let go of the aesthetic values tied to representation. I care about approaching the essence of a feeling. However, by capturing this feeling, do I not make myself visible in the work? When viewing my work, the spectator might recognise the feeling I try to seize, but that does not necessarily means he will also see me, I ponder. I seek to represent the people and objects around us not as they appear but by the feeling that is embedded in them and which reaches me when I closely observe them. This is why I’m a painter and why I love to do it. (See the series of paintings, Family or The story of ‘I’)
What is the most interesting moment in your life?
There’s nothing quite like the euphoria of first falling in love. It may sound cheesy, but one day, I hope to fall in love again..
What do you think makes a person interesting?
I think the pleasure for me is the sense that visually, emotionally, intellectually, people or things are so interconnected. That’s for me absolutely a pleasurable moment, when someone says something, or I’ll read something in the paper, or I’ll be walking down the street and suddenly I realize this is the connection. That’s also why we understand one another, the aspect of the connectedness of things. This connection is making an person interesting for me.
Who are some of the people that fascinate you?
My family and friends because they know me and therefore they can show me things no one else can. In my work I like to work in painting series. And first I need to make a connection, feel her, breathe her. Go on the streets, sit, look at local people, sketch a bit. For me that’s a way to start a new project.
If you could meet anyone (past or present) who would it be and why?
The painter, Francis Bacon. Why? The paintings “Triptych August 1972” It feels like as if something has happened, in the sense of an after-event, or alternatively that something’s going to happen but you don’t know yet what it is. It’s as if he can make people think they are so close to him that you believe he addressed the painting directly to you. He gives you a false sense of intimacy. I think the works invite me to have a conversation with it.
What is the most interesting possession you own?
In my work I am working on a new series about family. It started with a necklace I got from my grandmother when she passed away. On the necklace there is a portrait of a girl with curly hair. When I saw it for the first time it was like seeing someone I already knew. I think with the portraits I make I am always trying to see someone I know, or I have seen. I think the necklace was the start for that way of making art and to show more of myself and the people I have seen.
If you could make one change to your life to make it more interesting, what would it
I don’t know if I want to change something in particular. And if I have to mention one thing, I think that to believe in myself more. I am still uncertain about what I am doing and making.
Which brand do you find most interesting, and why is that?
Honda CB 750-series, because I like to ride it.
Care to share something interesting you’ve never shared before?
Since I have seen the documentary from the life of Charlotte Salomon. I have been fascinated by the feelings she puts in her artwork. Charlotte Salomon was twenty-three years old in 1940 when she made a painting of her face—a nameless, stateless, Jewish face. At the time, she was living as a refugee from Nazism in Villefranche on the French Riviera, and she had just made a startling discovery: that eight members of her family, one by one, over the years, had committed suicide. With this traumatic revelation in mind, she arrived at what she called “The question: whether to take her own life or to undertake something eccentric and mad.” Something “eccentric and mad” turned out to be an artwork in over seven hundred scenes, painted during one year (1941–1942). This massive artwork recounted the story of her Berlin Jewish family from World War I up to the day in 1941 when she decided to paint her life rather than to take it, then sat down by the Mediterranean “and saw deep into the heart of humankind.”
What is your all-time favourite piece of art, design or fashion?
Manet - le déjeuner sur l'herbe
Below is a small selection of Degann's exceptional work. For details of these works, and to view more please visit her website.
Thank you Degann