THE WORK OF JACOBA NIEPOORT IS A VISUAL DIARY OF THE INTERACTIONS AND EXPERIENCES SHE HAS WITH OTHERS, NATURE AND HERSELF.
MARIE BERTHELSEN | ARTICULATE #24 | JULY 2020
Even though Jacoba Niepoort has painted murals in over 40 countries across the globe, her art does not demand or seek attention. Rather, it blends into the surroundings. In a quite classy, and not too vivid or bold manner it creates a space you want to immerse yourself into. It becomes a landscape in a landscape, an unquestionable part of urban nature. Often in blue colors, the modern and stylish murals become joyful, and highly sensory. She provokes you to hold your breath, while your senses are stimulated without effort. The boldness of covering a whole wall will capture your attention and stimulate your senses, especially in gray concrete areas found in most cities. Possibly politically, her art is given a public space, where it blurs the lines between the outside city, and the confined space of art.
It therefore seems fitting that her drive derives from everyday situations, while not being limited to this. She stretches out and involves herself with the surrounding world by being highly sociable. When preparing for an artwork, Jacoba talks to the people in the given area, where she is going to paint. This is local residents, store owners and sometimes the homeless that sleep nearby, and of course, the people involved in planning the mural. Doing this gives her a better way of sharing with the open, public audience. Outdoor work involves on-site planning and has a demanding physical workload and ultimately becomes an all-encompassing and adrenaline filled artform.
When Jacoba creates her outdoor work, she also considers the neighboring spaces. What are the surrounding colors and shapes. Sketching, exploring, playing, will eventually make ideas come alive, and make sense to her on a visual level.
As mentioned, Jacoba’s art alternates between indoor and outdoor settings. Usually, she begins with indoor sketching and studio time, which then translates into outdoor, large scale mural work. Jacoba loves spending time in her studio, exploring, practicing, and digging down into subjects and ideas.
However, a big part of her practice and love for art comes from working on big projects and working in the public space. Her approach to art is interchanging, and the audience and interactions as well. The murals being in an open space allow her to challenge the rules and possibilities of the public space. This is one of her main motivations for creating art. Typically, you find the indoor audience in a gallery, isolated without Niepoort pre-interacting with them.
Perhaps that is why Gonzalo Borundo is one of her favorite artists. Like her murals interacting with the surrounding world, she mentions his work due to it touching ideas about society and human existence. For Niepoort, the brilliance of the work lies in the technique and subject matter and use of public space. She calls his approach uncompromising, considerate, and brave. A more local inspiration comes from Peter Max-Jakobsen and Jacob Rantzau, where the style and subject matter have influenced her work, and also her life.
This brings us to Niepoort’s life experience. Her day to day surroundings are what give her inspiration. Some of her current art becomes a visual diary of the interactions and experiences she has with others, both with nature, and with herself.
The act of sharing her work and the drive to do so, comes from Jacoba’s potential future experiences. All of these can be presented to a viewer, which might understand or even connect with it. Ideally, her art becomes relatable and to an extent, universal. Therefore, art becomes her way to objectively look at, and make sense of the world she herself has lived in and that which continuously exists around her.
In a diverging manner, Niepoort either works with subjects near to her or with ones she has little understanding of. And Niepoort either works in a situation she is currently experiencing, or through a delay, where after she has had time to process. Deep meditations are often where the initial idea arises. Simply existing and not sitting down and heaving after inspiration, is what brings her in a creative space. In what she calls a self-digging experience, Vipassana meditations (10-day silent intense meditation), have over the past couple of years played a big role in her creative process.
Being free from external outputs such as music, phones, and even pen and paper, have given her tremendous inspiration. What happens in the mind and body, and thereafter visually, is and intense experience. When creating art there is always a goal. Challenging herself, continuing to be curious, and going beyond the boundaries of what Nierpoort already knows is possible, is where her inspiration is attained. Space is then created for her to grow, making her comfortable to share it outside of her own head.
Currently, Niepoort´s indoor work stretches over canvas, drawings with permanent, charcoal or colored pencils. The looseness and movement of this technique has always appealed to Niepoort, where multiple lines and scribbles turns into an image. No single line defines or classifies the image. It works as a representation of life, where nothing is defined in a simple way, line or form. Multiple parallels, none of them isolated, none of them entirely positive or negative.
This can be seen in her outdoor work of runny paint, and in her stopping before the idea of her outdoor art becomes too defined or pretty. Standing close, she describes her art as an abstract mess, which is elucidated from a distance. Again, there is an alternation between the outdoor and indoor work. Permanent markers can be added on top of a coat of paint, thus finishing the mural work with drawing.
This article about Jacoba Niepoort takes part of magazine, ARTICULATE #24. Read, download or order your print version of the full publication below