World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 344 - Marjan Jaspers

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 344 - Marjan Jaspers

I saw beautiful works at Popinnart in Amsterdam, including works by Marjan Jaspers. What struck me right away was a fantasy creature with horns on very high legs that I see again in her spacious studio in the Haarlem Waarderpolder.

I see sculptures of hares, horses, insects and, on an easel, a work in progress of a yellow fish in dark blue water. She places the high-legged fantasy creature in front of us. Marjan: “I had molded the head. I continued to search, it had to be expanded. I found a nice combination with a branch with protrusions. That combined.” The horns turn out to be the legs of the freshwater crayfish, an American exotic species, which can now be found a lot in Dutch waters.


Marjan often finds things on the street that she later incorporates into works of art. “I don't know exactly what it will be yet. Some things I throw away, they turn out not to be so suitable. I'm going to work with things that are left over after a week." Marjan Jaspers has a special gift: she sees through things and sees something else. “It's called Pareidolia. The ability of humans to see an animal in clouds, for example. When I look at the bulky waste, I see all kinds of objects that I associate with something else. I will work on the things that have withstood the test of criticism.”

She already had it as a child, living with her family on the Hoofdweg in Amsterdam-West. “There wasn't much nature, but I still found all kinds of everything that I put in my pockets. There was a bicycle repair shop nearby: that's how I got a dynamo, screws and other parts. Much to my mother's despair."

On a pedestal

Not that she looks for them so much, those objects, she finds them. And in her studio she communicates with the object. Then she thinks: it must have ears. When she's going and things get well, she's happy inside. “I know: I'm on the right track.”

Recently she also got into a 'flow' again with making small drawings of insects. “I exhibited them at B&B. Then I thought: I can also hang them on the wall as an object / sculpture. That didn't seem to work well. Someone told me: you have to put them on a pedestal.” She puts one in front of me: a special object of an insect with a white-yellow transparent part and a black part. “I found that white part on the beach in Iceland. I sold those statues on pedestals very well at Kunstlijn Haarlem.”

Encaustic painting

She wanted to take everything home in Iceland, natural objects, stones, animal remains. “The suitcases would be too heavy at customs. I had to be selective. I put rocks and dry fish between our pajamas and other clothing so as not to damage them.”

Marjan is curious about the properties of materials. She uses that knowledge. For example, with 'encaustic' painting, painting with heated beeswax to which pigments are then added. The world of nature is close to her heart. “There is a lot of loss of biodiversity. I am always happy when I see butterflies, but there are fewer of them than before.”

The interest in nature started early. The family often went camping in nature with the tent. “My father loved the mountains. We camped quite primitively. Driving through France you had to clean the windows every time you fill up, full of dead insects. Now you can get to Nice with just one unlucky…”

Working every day

Every day she comes to her studio to make something. “A day of not working is a day of not playing. I already feel the cold breath of death on my neck, and there is still so much to tell, so there is no time to lose, I am unstoppable.” Does she work periods with making drawings / paintings and then periods with objects? That does not appear to be the case. It's all mixed up. “I work on a painting, walk around a bit, and then another object or work catches my attention and I know what to do about it, then I do it right away.” At the weekend she works in the living room with Apple Pencil on the iPad. Even then: a lot of nature and she also processes photos with it.

Key work

Does Marjan have a key work, an important guiding work? She does have three. The first: a painting of her aunt talking to a hare. “There I achieved a nice balance between the fun of painting and a family story. The family, with aunts, uncles and children, went to the Amsterdam Forest (Amsterdamse Bos) on Sundays, to have a picnic and play. My aunt often isolated herself. ‘I'll take care of the bags’, she said. She never felt completely at ease.”

The second key work: the series of small insects. “I still fantasize about that.” Next year she will exhibit those works at an exhibition in the Sint Joriskerk in Amersfoort. Harald Schole is the curator. The exhibition ties in with the Floriade in Almere. “He initially focused on plants and flowers. But what are flowers and plants without insects? The church is a beautiful place to demand respect for creation, and that includes insects.” There are long banners with insects on them, hanging in the free space, three and a half meters above the ground.

And finally, a clay work entitled 'Drift' on display at the Skulptur Galerie Osnabrück. She shows it on the basis of the catalog. It is a gloomy person in a black and white checkered cloak. “I always did clay, from an early age. This is someone who has had to leave his hometown. He is destitute and confused. There's a lot of emotion in it. I made it with dilapidated materials. They suit such a person.”

How long has she been an artist?

“From my fourth. In kindergarten I got blocks. Everyone made houses, I make an altar. It was with the nuns. We were Catholic, went to church. At home there was a family bible with prints by Gustav Doré. When she saw that altar, the nun said: 'Marjan, you are an artist!'. With Sinterklaas I always got drawing supplies and also clay. Later, when I had to choose a course and suggested the Art Academy, my father said: 'How do you want to earn a living with that?'”

It therefore became MO-A and MO-B drawing, painting and art history. Then you could also become a high school teacher. This training was linked to the predecessor of the Rietveld Academy. She obtained her teaching qualification there. “I have taught for several years. It cost me a lot of energy. I stopped after nine years, much to the chagrin of the school.” After that, she focused entirely on art. “I lent many works through art lending via SBKs, the Visual Arts Foundations. Such as the SBK Hilversum, Haarlem, Bergen aan Zee, Den Helder, Alkmaar, Gouda, Hillegom and Maastricht. I got rental income from that. Later I taught in my own studio.”

What is her experience of art life?

“It is fascinating and confronting. My fellow male students and later male artists made work that set the tone, even if the work of the female artists was not inferior to it. But they behaved more consciously. We started to behave - sometimes unconsciously - to it. When you heard a comment like ‘typical women’s work’, you thought it was. While you had actually taken over a prejudice. There was a turning point for me when I realized that. Over the past ten years, my work has become more noticeable. I also see that work by female artists is more highly valued.”


Finally, what is her philosophy? “I make a lot of fantasy animals based on the idea that animals are so close to us. We humans are not that different from animals, we are nature too. I am still amazed and astonished at what nature has to offer us. I'm going to draw and paint it first and then I'm going to read about it and then I am even more surprided over what's there and what's happening. I would like to raise awareness of how beautiful the earth can be. Each bird sings in its own way. I want my work to bring joy to the viewer/buyer/owner. I want to leave something beautiful behind.”


1) No. 285 birdwatchers 100 x 120, 2) No. 308 Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf 80 x 10, 3) Forest creature, wood and other materials 62cm high, 4) Horned game bird, 5) Icelandic beetle, 6) Pareidolia installation, 7) Marjan Jaspers in the studio, 8) nr.330 possibility-100x80, 9) nr.334 Idylle Baikal 2-100x80, 10) my aunt talking to white hare



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