Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Art Space Talk: Jeroen van Valkenburg

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I recently interviewed artist Jeroen van Valkenburg. Jeroen's art is inspired by ancient myths and sagas. Stories from the Viking era (9th to 11th Century A.D.) play an important role in his work.

Jeroen's work has been exhibited in many galleries in Holland and abroad. His work is also well known from all the book/cd/lp covers he has designed.

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Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I've been painting since the age of 15, just experimenting a bit with acrylics etc. I really liked it but never took it seriously then. When I was 20 I started with oilpaint and that was the moment when I realized that creating art was my destiny. It was like magic, such strong and deep colors! From that moment on I became very dedicated to painting and when people started buying my work, I made the choice that one day I want to be a professional artist. I've now been a pro artist since 1998 and I've been living off only my art ever since (I'm 33 now)."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "That really differs. Some paintings I can create in several hours, sometimes it takes me months. It really depend on how many layers I use. Some paintings have over 10 different layers."

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Q. Has your art ever been published?

A. "Yes, my work has been published in several art magazines and music magazines (because I've designed dozens of cd/lp covers) all over the world. Also my art has been used on book/magazine covers and as cd/lp/t-shirt cover art."

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Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "That has to be in the Lewis Guy Gallery in the Hague (Holland) in the year 2000. A very luxurious gallery in the centre of the Hague. The opening was so crowded you could hardly see the paintings! I don't exhbibit my art in galleries anymore, because of the high commission they ask nowadays. I only exhibit my paintings at artshows now, where I can be present myself and talk to the customers etc. I really want to know who buys my art and where my paintings end up."

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Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "Yes, I do. I always listen to music while painting. That can be classical/medieval music or extreme Black Metal. Just depends on the mood I'm in. If I have to make an album cover for a certain band I always play their music in the background to get a direct impression of their sound."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "The people who collect my art differ greatly from each other. My youngest buyer was 16, my oldest over 80. Some of them buy the paintings because of the subject (I have many paintings based on ancient pagan myths, so people interested in that collect those pieces) and some like my more visionary and surreal paintings. And some just buy it because they like the colors! "

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Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "'Cross the Styx' (image above)is the underworld river from Greek mythology. The dead were brought to the afterlife on this river. On the painting you can see the river running towards the light of life after death. The light is surrounded by the guardians of the underworld who accompany the soul to the next world. This is my personal interpretation of that ancient story."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "I have a master's degree in Archaeology (pre-history of North Western Europe) but I never went to art school. All techniques I learned myself. I now have several students whom I teach my techniques. The knowledge I got from my archaeology studies I now use as a source of inspiration for my paintings."

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Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I only use oils, because of the richness and depth of the colors. Also the idea that this kind of paint has been used for 100's of years really appeals to me."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "At art-shows all over Holland, and on the internet:"

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Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

A. "Not anymore. I was represented by the Art Above All Gallery in Leiden for a couple of years. I might do an exhibition soon again."

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Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "Most of them are listed on my website under 'exhibitions'. "

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "Fine-art is finally coming back. Too many years there was only abstract/minimal/concept art all over. "

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Always follow your own heart, don't get influenced by trends. Just believe in what you create."

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Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "I have an enormous urge to create and bring my visions into this world so others can see them."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "Some of my work is inspired by the ancient pagan myths/sagas and religion of Vikings, Celts and Germannic tribes. They play an important part in my work."

Q. Do you have an account on If so, what is it?

A. "Not yet, but I'm planning on having one really soon!"

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Jeroen van Valkenburg. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing work