Lisette van Hoogenhuyze – “I’m searching for a universal visual language”
UNFAIR2022 will take place in the Westergas, Amsterdam. Forty upcoming and renowned artists present their work 15-17 July. As a proud sponsor of UNFAIR2022 we ask several artists of UNFAIR2022 about their work and what drives them. This time we spoke to Lisette van Hoogenhuyze.
Artist Lisette van Hoogenhuyze will make her debut at Unfair this year, with a collection of colourful painting-like installations. She studied art history first, followed by a second study at HKU art academy during which she declared her love to the beach; something that’s always reflected in her work. From her new studio in Lisbon, she’s now making the final preparations for the Unfair exhibition.
Are you already busy preparing for Unfair?
“Absolutely. And I also had to move out of my studio, so everything came at once: finding a new studio, finishing my work for Unfair and everything else related to that. But luckily I didn’t have to move home again.”
Do you move around that much?
“I move often, yes. Haha! I’ve been living in Lisbon for about 10 months now, and I will stay here for some time. In recent years, I moved from The Hague to Utrecht, to Amsterdam, to Berlin, to Mexico City, back to Amsterdam and I now live in Lisbon. I love to discover and experience everything.”
Do you have a profound fear of missing out?
“Perhaps I have none at all. The more you travel, the more things you’ll miss in the Netherlands. By getting to know more people and places, you realise even more how much you miss things, but also how you actually don’t miss anything at all, as you’re getting so much in return.”
How do you prefer to describe what you do?
“I want to inspire people with my work, and to make them think. I often play with shapes and colours that evoke different associations and constantly set the viewer on a different track. Things have to be playful, funny and surprising, but at the core of what I do is the search for a universal visual language that we all understand and feel.”
What’s your connection to the beach?
“I’m from The Hague and my grandparents used to live in Zeeland. So I spent all my summers on and near the beach. To finance my second study at the academy of art, I used to work fulltime in a beach bar during the summers. It was called Naturel and located next to a nudist beach. It was situated on this kind of hill, where all these naked and dangling bodies were prancing around, playing badminton and manoeuvring themselves into strange yoga positions. I witnessed many extraordinary scenes and scenarios that would be intimidating and inappropriate in any other context. It all left quite an impression during my formative years at the art academy. And I almost always visit beach sites during my travels. People on a beach aren’t stressed or worried about work. It kind of seems to be like this ‘in-between area’, literally between water and land, where all you need to do is just to be.”
What’s your connection to Unfair?
“I’ve visited Unfair a few times, but this is the first time I’m participating! There are exhibitions you can sign up for yourself, but for Unfair you need to be invited. It’s an extremely cool opportunity for artists, because the organisation has this big and unique approach. For example, the spaces at Westergas Fabriek where our works are displayed, are designed by architects. So the exhibition space is probably already a work of art in itself.”
What will you be showing at Unfair?
“I use a mix of canvas, raw cotton and paper for my wall installations. And I also experiment with materials such as steel, wool, ceramics, oil and acrylic paint. I’ve been working on a new series for Unfair, in which the different elements are interacting with each other within the frame more. Layering and materiality still predominate, but they’ve taken a different path, like me. Moving to Portugal has made the narrative more personal and the search more visible.”
Are you an entrepreneur?
“You have to be one, right? Until you’ve made such a name for yourself that you can start to outsource certain things. Until then, you’re your own manager, planner, website builder and head of communication all rolled into one. But I sure do have an entrepreneurial side, and I also think that’s something that’s really necessary as an artist. The idea of an artist in an attic room with two bottles of wine is kind of passé.”
Was there any particular moment in which you felt that things were starting to take off for you?
“I did a residency in London in 2019, which was amazing. Those are opportunities that you really can’t pass up. I’m still in touch with many of the people I met there, such as artists and curators. When I returned, early 2020, I was invited by both TORCH Gallery and the Circle Gallery from Amsterdam to show new work. Those two parallel exhibitions ensured that I’ve been able to show my work regularly since then, both in the Netherlands and abroad.”
What are you most proud of?
“I had this idea for myself of a life in which I have the freedom to travel, while being able to live from my art. And so far, I can. The recent move to Lisbon was also a moment of pride for me. People around me questioned whether it was the right thing: ‘You’re doing so well in Amsterdam and now you’re suddenly moving far away’. Despite the negative predictions, I’m proud that I did it anyway and that I still get so many opportunities to show my new work.”