World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 113 - Inge Aanstoot
In 2014 I saw Inge Aanstoot winning the Piket Art Award for Painting. A short time later she won another award: the Sacha Tanja Penning. With the first award she won 8,000 euros and the second 10,000. Inge Aanstoot is one of the great young Dutch talents. She could finally quit her parttime jobs and go full-time to work as an artist.
Myths and symbols
I see her in her studio in Rotterdam. It is is part of the foundation B.A.D., located in a former school in the Talingstraat. The sunlight is shining through the windows. On the wall are two huge paintings with the back forward. There is always a lot happening on the paintings of Inge Aanstoot. “I like to tell stories on the canvas. I am interested in myths, symbolism, religion. And in history, it learns you where it’s going to.”
Everyone has to deal with it. Even people who are very exact and rational, scientists for example appear to have their own rituals and myths, says Inge. She has been working a long time on the theme. “Regardless of time and mainstreams there are always things you can not explain, and that is the beginning of rituals and myths. You see it with the Greeks, hundreds of years before Christ, the Chinese in the 6th century and the inhabitants of Urk in the 21st century. In myths, rituals and symbolism the emotional life gets form. It sometimes has far-reaching consequences: for example, people won’t vaccinate their children, while there is so much information about what may be the consequences.”
Mythology, rituals and symbolism are also in Bible stories. Inge Aanstoot grew up with it. She listened in fascination. It was like listening to fairytales. She comes from a Christian family, but the rules weren’t very strict. They prayed for the food, at Christmas she went with the family to the church and she went to a Christian school. She immersed herself in it when she got a boyfriend whose father was sacristan in the church. “Very interesting and fun. I also started singing in the church choir. But it was mainly the stories which attracted me. I experienced the stories as fairytales. A Bible story is to me just as interesting as a well told story at the bar of a pub.” Inge is also interested in other religions and cultures.
In the last year of the Academy, there was emphasis on multi-interpretabilities and symbolism. Aanstoot: “A fish that you see on a sixteenth-century painting has a different meaning for a Dutchman than for a Japanese. Fish has the connotation with the Ichtus sign, that refers to rebirth. A Japanese won’t think this way. His first idea will be eating raw fish. That in itself is interesting. Everyone gives a different meaning. It applies also to my paintings. I think that’s just great.”
She works intuitively. “Not everything has to have immediate significance. And I do not necessarily convey a message through my work.” She thinks about her position a young artist and she dares to compare herself to the great masters. In some of her works are references to friends, especially a graphic designer and a cafe owner. “I appreciate and envy them both. It’s a kind of joke, but it also fits into the work.”
The stories she finds also in newspapers, magazines and the Internet. Or someone says it. At the moment she is working on a painting with animals. She read interesting things in National Geographic, saw a documentary by David Attenborough and also checked Wikipedia. “It was a movie about a snail in which both males and females had a penis and yet succeeded to reproduce.” In the 17th century, Jan Swammerdam and Boerhaave discovered with their microscope many new creatures and life forms. Discovering this snail is a prolongation of this. In my main sidejob of the past nine years, in a nature drugstore, I was curious to know where all the ingredients came from.“
With her work in the nature drugstore she will stop – provisionally for one year. Thanks to the money she won with the two awards. Attached to the Sacha Tanja Medal was also a prestation at the Rotterdam Kunsthal. Emily Ansenk, the director of the Kunsthal and Joop van Caldenborgh, art collector, were in the jury, chaired by Wim Pijbes, former director of the Rijksmuseum. Aanstoot: “That made the winning of that award even more valuable.”
Asked about her key work she mentions two. ‘Fever Pitch’ of 2011 and ‘Caught in the Act’ of 2012. “Fever Pitch hung at TENT. It was a breakthrough, in terms of painting technique, composition and subject. I started to work more loose and intuitive, with more emotion. In addition it was well-founded with a religious theme, ‘fallen heroes / golden calves’.” In Caught in the Act she began working autobiographical and measured herself to her heroes: David Hockney, Leopold Rabus and Egon Schiele.
In 2005 Inge Aanstoot went to the Willem de Kooning Academy and graduated in 2009. She is an artist for eight years. “I graduated when subsidies disappeared. I just managed to get a year WIK (an artists’ benifit). But at that moment I earned my own money.” She had to spend quite some time on part-time jobs which resulted in less time for art. That’s over now. She hopes it will stay this way.
Four years ago she got her current studio space, with foundation B.A.D.. The B.A.D. building also houses four living spaces and one of them belongs to Inge. “It is a place with lots of history. Since 1991, there are artists here. I’ve been here when I was a student, to interview an artist for the magazine of the Academy. A lot happens from the collective. There are people here with very different professional practises. That makes it fun to talk about it with each other, we are as it were each other’s sounding board. We have a good relationship with each other. Once a month we meet and we distribute tasks. We have a big garden, which is nice to barbecue for example. There are occasional exhibitions, lectures and parties, sometimes other artists are invited to do performances.”
There are three guest studios – and at the moment even four because of an artist who has just left. At the time of the interview the guest artists came from England, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. “A while back we had a few other Spanish artists. They had fled Spain because of the crisis. We sometimes think we live in lesser times, but when you hear those stories from Spain, then we are doing quite well.”
She is one of the artists at the Hague gallery Vonkel - and before at gallery Jaap Sleper in Utrecht, but that gallery stopped. At Vonkel she is quite happy. "Soon we will have a group show and in a while there is KunstRAI. I look forward to it. "