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Hoogenkamp, Jeltje - VM - Marleen Hengelaar

Jeltje Hoogenkamp: Resurrection

A Golden Figure

by Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

The work of Dutch artist Jeltje Hoogenkamp is semi-abstract. This means that her paintings consist most of all of stripes, specks and colour planes, but that within this abstract play of forms also recognizable things have been depicted, like a house, a circle, a square or a human being.

The artist says about her work: ‘Warm colours and references to the stories and symbols of the Christian faith play an important role in my work. My work is meditative. As in poems there is space between the lines in my paintings, space that the viewer is free to fill in. I search for utter simplicity – only simple forms can point to the unimaginable. While painting I am always searching for balance. I am not quickly satisfied. Sometimes I apply extra layers, also on top of good parts, to achieve a better balance. The work is thus literally and figuratively made up of multiple layers.’

The painting above is a work that requires time to view and sink in. Only by prolonged looking will you become aware of what the artist has wanted to convey about the figure that is buried within the darkest lower layer. 

Is it Christ or an ordinary human being like you or me? Or perhaps both?

If it is Christ, he will rise on Easter morning, straight across the layers of earth which are already beginning to open themselves at the top for the light of the sun and the Father. Away and out of the dark depth of death, as conqueror of all that sucks away life and breath.

But it could also be a human being. Then it is as if the gold that finds its source in the sun and spreads across the painting breaks the ground open, enters it and converges in the figure lying at the bottom. As if this figure encapsulated by darkness and death is slowly and magically transformed into a body of gold. 

What will happen next? Will the earth crack open even further and will this golden figure crawl out through the dense layers, changed and in new form? In the future, but perhaps partly also now, transformed by the Spirit?


Jeltje Hoogenkamp: Resurrection, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 120 cm.

Jeltje Hoogenkamp was born in 1946 in Sneek, the Netherlands. She studied graphics at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. She lives in Culemborg with her husband, a retired pastor who organizes local and national art projects. She exhibits her work in churches and public buildings.  

Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker is editor-in-chief of ArtWay.

ArtWay Visual Meditation July 3, 2016