World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 140 - Zan van Alderwegen

Zan van Alderwegen’s studio is located in the front room of her house in Amsterdam, not far from the Amstel near the Nieuwe Amstelbrug. In front of me I see two big pictures of birds, in the middle of the room a four-part scaffold with all kinds of little objects, on the right a big picture of a yellow pear with a ceramic horse and below computers, and at right a large bird cage.

A number of colored birds fly around. One of them, called Vito Luciano, gray crest, yellow cup, orange cheeks lands a little later on my left shoulder and goes to my right shoulder and through my arm down. He also wants to be interviewed, I understand, because he already tells of everything, but I can not decipher what he says exactly.


Small, insignificant objects, this inspires Zan van Alderwegen, like the feathers of her birds. But also petals, yellowed twigs of trostomates, tree leaves - this morning she found lime-tree seedlings with four nuts - bicycle lights, reflectors, potatoes, baking cups, plastic cups, lemon nets, caps of detergents and caps of pots of handcream.

Often you see two objects together. "Two is something essential to me. Life consists of two units. Life and death, love and hate, light and dark, man and woman, good and evil, inside and outside, left and right, positive and negative." I browse through her book about 'Two' with pictures in it and a poem.

Raise the futile

With the objects, she starts working photographically at a desk in front of the window. I see a lot of lenses and mirrors. Zan van Alderwegen: "I use the daylight. I will zoom in on the objects. In my work, I try to raise the futile to something monumental. Things that are usually in the shadow, I put in full light."

This way she tries to draw attention to the ‘secret life of things’. "I want to break a lance for another, more concentrated way of perceiving. Intensified, suspended and original. I implicitly comment on the way we look at our environment and the value judgments that play a role - consciously or unconsciously. "

Animated beings

The objects are isolated and enlarged, to monumental images till 1.80 m. The background is often white or undetermined. The object is central and appears to have another, new look. "However, it is more than a formal game with scale, color and shape. Many objects have a specific character to me and radiate a certain feeling. They are more than lifeless matter to me."

She sees the objects rather as engaged beings. "In the way I depict such objects photographically, I try to show the characteristics. Sometimes this leads to images that are iconic and carry a high degree of alienation."

in Zan's personal life, stories, myths and psychological processes are of great importance. And that is reflected in her display of objects. "A photo of a headlight or a cap of a bottle is not just a view. A flower is more than simply a flower." It refers to something that is outside and intangible and thus transcends the concrete. "In it lies the value of many art: to transform the banal and futile into something universal and timeless."

The opera  

A fine example of this is her work 'The Opera'. She regards it as a key work. You see two red petals with a purple core, they are poppy leaves. The bottom one is furthermore shrunk than the upper one, which is still standing proud. Between the leaves, there is also something happening. "In the two poppy leaves you see the drama of life. The lower leaf is much further in its dying process. How beautiful are the wrinkles! The upper blade has a big tension, the bottom one tries to reach desperately. Between them is a special, animated, intersection with yellow-green light."

Another key work is a picture of two elongated red caps with dots on it. "They are rubber caps. For nine years I worked in a wallpaper factory as a colorist. You choose the right colors and combine that for the wallpaper. Those rubber caps you put around your fingers when you place something in the oven." Another work of that time is the image of a vase made with a blow bellows. On top of it, she placed a marble.

The objects have gained a dimension, have become 'multilayered'. Like the autumn leaves that are crooked around each other. "You see its beauty, and some kind of intimacy. It is about letting go, about special processes in life. The leaves get something human." She also made a book of the leaves. Among other things, I see two pink leaves that look like a mouth. "People can fill in what they see."


The monumental - Zan studied Monumental Design in 's Hertogenbosch - appears to be in the family. "A great-grandfather was a sculptor. His name was Eduard van Landeghem, born in Belgium, but left for America. On the boat to New York he married. He made a Statue of Liberty at the Montana State Capitol in 1900, a statue of George Washington in the Masonic Hall in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, a sculpture of the Virgin Mary for the Catholic University of Washington DC and a plaque by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President.

We conclude with a philosophical thought. She refers to her logo in which her name is processed. Recently she has followed a 3D course to make it in 3D as well. She shows the model. In her logo there is no bottom, top, left or right, but a star. "That's the core where everything comes from and comes back."


1) Opera, 2) Talk, 3) Goldfinger, 4) PastedGraphic - 1, 5) Screenshot 4/11/2016, 6) PastedGraphic - 2, 7) Screenshot 20/09/2017, 8) Arti Salon kl, 9) Glass, 10) PastedGraphic - 6, 11) two leaves, 12) Portrait Zan



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