World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 36 – Maayke Schuitema
Art was part of the education in Maayke Schuitema’s family. Work of her grandfather Paul Schuitema was on the wall. Paul Schuitema was a renowned photographer, filmmaker and graphic designer.
There was work of her uncle Bonies as well. ‘We ‘had to’ visit the openings of exhibions in galleries or musea. I didn’t like it at all. Later I did, of course. I am very happy that my parents were able to put this in my mind.
‘My father was trained as a graphic designer, but he wasn’t working in the profession. He has had a great influence on my development as an artist. From the age of 11 on I didn’t only attend the ordinary school, but the Royal Conservatory of Dance as well. My dream was to be a dancer. It wouldn’t end like that, but nevertheless I am working now on a big Dance Project’.
Next to the Conservatory of Dance Schuitema was a student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. ‘The Hague does play a rol, you can say. Though I’m living just outside of the city. My studio is in Binckhorst area. I am an active member of Painters’s Society Pulchri Studio, Project 2.0 at Noordeinde is my gallery.’
‘You sure can say there is fragmentation in The Hague art world. In Leiden, where I worked for five years, there is a much stronger bond between the artists. This I miss. I am not working in a building with more artists, I am working alone. That might also be a reason. I do have good contacts with fellow artists of my gallery. The Hague is very art minded, with lots of great art institutions and galleries. And there is GEM that has a unique art policy.
Schuitema paints and draws. At the centre is the woman. Searching in the collective memory she finds symbolic and mythic items. The Goddess and the Mother, the Sister and Wife, the Daughter and the Shrew. The woman is a seductive Medusa, the moon goddess Selene or a sorceress like Hecate.
The canvas sizes are large, sometimes seven feet. There is a combination of different techniques that are used interchangeably. She starts with the imprint of a linocut. The figure – often a naked woman full of emotion – is then drawn or painted. The lines are tight. The typography she uses, recalls her grandfather. In the background the various techniques fuse with each other in to the ‘skin’ of the painting.
Schuitema works ten years independently. The first exhibiton she organized herself. ‘One of the visitors was Coen van den Oever from Gallery 2.0 at Noordeinde. He was impressed with my work. Three month later I had my solo exhibition at his gallery. I still work together with him. I also have a gallery in Amsterdam, Leslie Smith Gallery. He takes my work to some major art exchanges in the world.
The Dance Project
At the time of interview she put all her energy in this project, that would be shown later in Pulchri Studio at Lange Voorhout. ‘I want to pour ballet / dance into a two-dimensional artform. At the exhibition there will be an immense linocut /linoprint ten meters wide and three meters high.’
To be seen are the twenty greatest dancers that have stood the last hundred years on stage. ‘I let the dancers dance in my oewn choreography. It is a snapshot of a performance, retaining the freedom of two-dimensional art. It’s a work of art, not a play. The dancers may also stand on their head or have enlargements.’
‘I already said I am trained as a ballet dancer at the Conservatory of Dance. I once had a grand dream. Not to be a classical ballerina, but more a role on and around the stage, such as a choreographer. Which dancers will you bring in? How to combine elements and to work towards the finale?’
‘I became a visual artist, but my passion and love for dance never disappeared. I found it again. I can enjoy it without frustration. I’m not a part of the Ballet, but a spectator. The ballet training appears to be an important experience that affects my current work. Especially when portraying postures and moods. My empathy and perseverance are directly related to my dance training.’
‘It’s been a long time out of my head. I had to take root in another art form, get clarity about my role and function as an artist, create my own visual language. But Ballet has always been part of me. When you’re young and intensely busy with your physical self, it never goes out of your system.’
‘You recognize everything in and around the profession, it’s an unerring sense of quality in dance. You see immediately whther it is properly done. If a dancer has a good technique and physical appearance. In ballet a flawless technique and a powerful physical body is a necessity. Looking at it is very visual, almost sickly. Every detail is striking. If it rambles I am not able to put myself over it.’
This work will be her ode to the art of dance. ‘I let two art forms, dance and visual, melt. Usually I only paint female models, but in this work I make an exception. There will be male dancers. Men in dance have a huge strength.’
Tension between male and female
‘The combination of the elegant classical dance and the powerful, muscular body of the male dancer has always been more interesting for me than the female dancer. The discrepancy between feminine movements and ‘the man’ makes it more interesting.’
‘If I would choose only female dancers, it would reinforce my theme. But in this case women only would be too dull, smooth, silky. The woman in itself gives me the opportunity to show emotion. With a man this is more difficult.’
But twenty women together ‘drown’. In this piece I need the tension between male and female. In the interaction the artwork comes to life.’