We proudly hosted Lieve van Meegen in our Residency Programme in the Studio Building, West London. Her way of working is completely spontaneous, without any form of design or sketching. This process itself is at least as important to her as the final work. It is one big adventure in research and experimentation. Seeing her paint in the studio shows courage and determination. Something we do not encounter too often. Fear of error seems to be non-existing. With confidence and grace she plunges into her work, where the play of brush and paint sometimes reminds us of a dance with the canvas.
‘Painting is about freedom.’ – Lieve van Meegen
I visited Lieve in London to see what she was painting and to do an interview. Here you can both read the written interview; and see the video about her residency.
Why do you paint?
Lieve: To me painting is about freedom; no restrictions. But why that is, is actually very hard to put in words. Like with most essential things in life. Why do we eat, why do we sleep? Why do I love to look at paintings? Why do we make love? Good food with lots of ingredients makes me happy as well as simple food where you taste the quality of the ingredients. I love good materials and adore colours. My surroundings and the people I meet influence me. Living in the here and now is important to me. How can we not? What lies in the past made me what I am today; in all different forms. I cannot look into the future, and that is quite similar to how I paint: an interaction between me, the brush, the paint and the canvas.
What is the most important element in your work?
At the moment it is space. Literal space and space inside my head. For some reason my work is getting bigger and bigger and for that I need the space to create. To be able to create I need space in my head as well, or sometimes better result come out when I have no space at all within myself.
And I guess balance is an important role. Even when I try to make a chaotic as possible painting or wanted it out of balance during the process, the image is ending up being balanced. It probably has to do with the fact that I myself am not that well balanced. I like to live in extremes, while always looking for balance, without any success. Although I think lately I’m more on a balanced path, I’m curious what this will bring to my work.
‘I want to be the best painter of my generation.’ – Lieve van Meegen
As a painter, what are your ambitions?
I want to be the best painter of my generation (laughs). I know it is a very high goal to aim at, but there is something in me that wants to be there. It’s a bit weird to state it like that, because it sounds very arrogant, which I’m not. I don’t know why I have this goal. Can’t explain.
Can you tell us something about the run-up to the Residency? What was your goal?
Placing myself in a different environment to work and see how it would affect my painting practice. I wanted to know how it is to have space, and be able to work on multiple paintings at the same time next to each other, and finishing a lot of paintings in a time schedule of 4 weeks. Before this Residency I’ve never been to London. I was curious what this city would bring me and how the museums, galleries and schools are, over there.
How is it to write a project plan for an intuitive painter like you?
As much as my work is intuitive, there is colour, composition and contrast, which are important. I wrote my project plan about the more formal aspect of painting and how the residency could help me grow and gain experience. It’s always hard to find the right words describing your work. The viewer has the freedom to perceive it as they prefer. They can love it or hate it, adore it or completely loose themselves in it. It is not about what I meant or want to tell.
‘What I appreciate most in paintings is honesty.’ – Lieve van Meegen
What did you learn in these four weeks?
As much as I love freedom to create, fat oil paint and a tightly stretched canvas is what I mostly use, and what I’m fond of. Discovering working on paper, which I normally don’t, showed me that working on paper combined with using light Liquitex Acrylic Ink on it, gives a nice soft touch. I like to tease the viewer into touching the work, which might not be allowed, I don’t like visual fingerprints. Also the Liquitex Spray Paint gave me new effects to use combined with the acrylic ink. I loved to learn there are so many possibilities in materials to get to an effect that pleases me.
Can you tell us some more about these new techniques or materials you discovered?
When you use wet on wet technics on a semi-dry background and then go over it with some oil paint that contains more turpentine over the fat wet in wet paint, and smear it out, you get almost a silkscreen effect. I discovered it by trying new techniques with oils. You could compare it a bit with Richter’s techniques but its slightly different. It creates a ripple relief as well, because I used a shoe brush instead of a painting brush. It diffuses what is the background or foreground and which steps where taken first. That’s the trick of it, actually it is very simple!
Did you ever consult the Lab next door?
Working next to the lab was interesting to see. A laboratory for paint, where everything is clean and careful, exactly the opposite of how I work, was a nice contrast. They helped me with getting a better ‘wet-look’ for my paintings and advised me with which mediums to use.
‘For me paint can never be wet enough.’ – Lieve van Meegen
What was the biggest difference working in this Residency Project?
To be not surrounded with teachers and fellow student, working without any distractions. I always try doing what I want to do. But it’s was nice to be on my own in a studio alone and not constantly having comments about my process, is what you, of course, have in a environment like an art academy. From this I learned how to filter better.
Are you happy with the results of the Residency?
First off all it has been such an amazing experience! I’m honoured and grateful. As far as being happy with the end result is mostly not for long. And I’m happy with that fact. It allows me to create new works. The Residency brought me more than paintings only. I have met wonderful new interesting people and some showed me amazing spaces that made me more ambitious. And yes I’m standing behind what I painted in London and gave me great new perspectives to my own process.
With the harvest of this Residency, Academie Minerva gave you the big room of the former Groningen Museum for a solo exhibition, you named ‘What Did I Paint in London?’ How was the show?
Wowza wonderful the school arranged this for me. I had no words. At the opening I felt slightly uncomfortable. I’m happy that Ruud Venekamp, one of my teachers whose work I admire did an opening talk for me. It was nice to see my end results. To be honest it also felt too much and after all this I was stuck on producing new work for some time.
You still study at Minerva Groningen. What’s the most important thing you learned there?
The most important thing for me is to be there. I’m lucky to be surrounded with a lot of painters, students and teachers that I admire and learn much from. And there is not big competition between students, where are one big community with a lot of love to give to each other. I’m learning in the academy how to except myself more every day. I’m still in the third year and there is more to discover and to learn as well after the academy. I’m grateful to the academy to speed up my creative process.
What are your future plans?
Let’s see… I’m excited for the future. Now at the moment, I have plans and I would love to show my work at beautiful galleries and museums, so that people can see my work. But my life never goes according to plan. One of the beauties of life, I find in randomness. I live with multiple obsessions and right now and for some time it has been painting. And I think painting will always be a part of me, but I cannot say for sure. Could be that one-day I will be done with it. Quitting cigarettes would be nice as well for the future.
Thank you Lieve.
Thank you for having me.
Interview, video & photography by: Lennaert Koorman
Special thanks to:
Lieve van Meegen | Minerva Academy
Robert Rost | The Fine Art Collective
Mathew Gibson | Elephant Residencies
Rebecca Pelly Fry | Elephant West
Stephanie Nebbia | The Fine Art Collective
Tezz Kamoen | Visual Artsist
Martijn Schuppers | Visual Artist
Cor Groenenberg | Minerva Academy
Jasper van der Wurff | ColArt