RENEE DE VRIES, ARTIST

This week the Amsterdam based artist Renee de Vries 'exhibits' her artwork at MASTERS Gallery. Inspired by sunny countries, new cultures and inspiring people, Renee creates the most diverse creations with her palette knife. Her works have made it to numerous exhibitions, including the Nieuwe Kerk and De Suikerhof in Amsterdam.

Text: Larissa Schaule Jullens
Image: Renee de Vries

Querida Katie, echa de menos a su familia

"This is my most recent painting: the paint is still wet, so to speak. For me, the subject of this painting is very special. I am currently staying in Curacao for a few months and this is where I met Katie. Katie is a young Venezuelan who came to Curaçao four years ago - legally, as a 'tourist' - to earn money for her children and further family in Venezuela. She did not return when she had to leave Curaçao again. And thus she remained on the island as an undocumented person. Illegally and with an expired passport. Working hard for her family. For four years she had to feel the loss of her children: this became heavier and heavier. There was no possibility of returning. Until last week: Venezuela agreed to a repatriation flight for 120 Venezuelans! The person who had been taking care of Katie for some time immediately went to work for her. The result? As I write this, Katie is in a hotel in Venezuela where she will stay for three days before finally returning home to her children and family. I wanted to make this portrait of Katie out of deep respect for her. I wish her all the happiness in the world and have found it a privilege to know her."

Freedom

"This is my biggest canvas. An old one already, from 2000. It hangs in my home and takes up an entire wall. And I love this painting. I made it after I returned from South Africa, after visiting my sister. A country that is so beautiful it is almost impossible to describe. But of course also a country where apartheid played a role for so long. A country with a lot of wrongs, which made it hard for the biggest part of the population. But the joy and hope after Mandela 's release and after his presidential election, that's what I remember. People dancing in a field, colour, movement and more colour. I wanted to portray the feeling of freedom. And not bound to South Africa alone."

La Môme Piaf

"France: the cuisine, the language, the amazing Nouvelle Vague films AND The French Chanson, I love it so immensely. In 2016 I made four paintings of four - in my opinion - phenomenal French people. Jacques Brel, Jeanne Moreau, Brigitte Bardot and 'La Môme (Edith) Piaf'. All painted pasty with palette knives. And in shades of blue with an occasional small other colour accent. I have a thing about that. Portraits in blue. All shades of blue, anyway. Sometimes from grief about losing people I love a lot, every day, even though they are gone. A kind of periodic blue periods actually. So here is Edith Piaf 'en bleue'. For me this painting radiates her emotional strength. La Môme Piaf (the little sparrow) with the big voice! The four portraits I made have all been given a place in a restaurant (Chez Brigitte) in the South of France."



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