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this edition

Watercolors 2017

Painting with objects

Interview with Monika Dahlberg

Winter 2018: Painting Fog

Schwarzmalen 3: Artchapel

3rd edition 3rd year 2018


cover: Natalia Gontsorova carrying a Motherwell, while the position refers to the image of

Louise Bourgeois, after painting too many flowers and birds.


At the same time textile related

matter had my personal attention.

I tried to combine or work

with a lot of things at the same time. I

never wanted to choose for any style

nor was I trying to ind one style of my

own. Always believed that following my

passions would put things together or

lead to something unknown and better.

this edition

Costumes, watercolors 2017

Painting with objects

Geest uit de les

Expo: Famille Noire

Winter 2018: Fog

Interview with Monika Dahlberg


IIn this third edition of MARI/JA I like

to talk a bit about the background

of my painting. How it changed from

fundamental to really painted paintings.

When I was at art academy iguration

for example was not-done or it

had an almost reactionary reputation.

During the eighties this changed and

after that everything was possible in

contemporary painting.







In 2017 I inally found a studio which

is not temporary after 12 years. Since

a long time I have shared the studio

with Wim Vonk and Klaas de Jonge.

We moved further out of Amsterdam

to a small village called Oude Niedorp

in North Holland. It will provide some


I also had a conversation with Monika

Dahlberg and interviewed her about

how she is dealing with art history. This

is connected to important themes in my

own work.

Armando died while I was making this

magazine. For twenty years I did the

preliminary work of his sculptures. You

will ind the In Memoriam I wrote on

the last page.

Marja van Putten

August 2018


Cover: Encounters m/f

I painted two more

Encounters in 2017. The

irst is the one on the cover

and they both show many

quotations that relect on

my opinion about women


Natalia Gontsorova carrying a

Motherwell, while the position

refers to the image of Louise

Bourgeois, after painting too

many lowers and birds.

Encounters, M/F, Natalia, 2018,

100 x 100 cm, various paints on


Paula Mohdersohn Becker with

her foot in the pan of Broodthaers

and her hand in an Armando

wheel, while Penck is


Encounters, M/F, Women in Art,


130 x 130 cm, various paints on




After teaching



(Sommer Akademie

at Zakynthos) in the

summer of 2017, I

started a series of 3

large watercolors:

three women wearing

costumes with a

cultural mix of clothes.





The passion is recognizable in all her

paintings. It is not only the choice of

subjects, but also how she uses the material.

The material and the subject matter match

in each of her paintings as a key to its lock.

The cross-linking of material and subject is

often contagious and carried through to the


From a distance and on photos the paintings look The material on her canvases consists not

almost cheerful. They have a positive and energetic only of all kinds of paint in one painting,

appearance. The subjects come from everyday life. but also of colored fabrics, beads, buttons

Often with soft things, romantic, beautiful, friendly, etc. She has built up a large collection

nothing to worry about.

of textiles and yarns from which she can

choose. There is a wide variety of subjects in

her paintings, but always that characteristic

Nearby, however, you can see holes, cracks, scratches.

way of using the materials. The brush is

The painting looks raw and in some places bare and

regularly replaced by the drill, construction

rough. When it was made, the work was apparently

glue or needle and thread. The crosslinking

of material and subject has become

dealt with in a harsh manner.

increasingly stronger over the years. There

It is screwed, chorded, torn, pricked. It is scrubbed, are paintings with a sculpture-like character,

polished, showered. Buckets are thrown at it. In this with thick layers of paint in diferent

way, the painting is kneaded from front to back, grasped

and shaped three-dimensionally. Once they are works. In both, the viewer wanders around

materials, but also very transparent painted

inished, you may only handle them with silk gloves. as in an adventurous journey through


unprecedented landscapes or mysterious

spaces in which her characters try to keep

themselves standing.

The approach to the subject is diferent in

every painting. Fascinating and confusing at

the same time.

The passion in the work of Marja van Putten

is an adventure for the viewer, One has to

go into it. An adventure awaits.

You experience her work best coming close

to them. Pictures of Marja’s works relate

to the real work as a photograph of a plate

with food to a real dinner.


Vera de Groot 2013


Since 1996 I started to paint with iguration.

I worked with objects and with

objects on shelves ixed to the paintings

in a very associative way. I refrained

from judging the content, images

and composition before they were on

the canvas.

many already has been done. For centuries

paint has been messed with and

in many diferent ways, a quality that

can’t be matched by any screen. That is

why a painting must also be ‘painted’,

you must see the paint, no matter how

thin or empty some pieces are: not only

use the material, but also listen to the



In the years 2000-2008 I was also working

a lot with the computer. The Digt_

paint years (painting with paint and

pixels) were important to work more

quickly and try out a lot in composing

and inding content.

Since 2006 I started to work with only

paints again. In this magazine I will

show the highlights. Characteristic are

the contradictions in one painting and

in each painting separately. This has

always been present in my work, contrasts

in the use of material, art historical

quotes, themes and painting styles.

My paintings contain a multitude of

images and associations, which can be

confusing in terms of content and art.

In every painting something pinches:

an opposition. One painting yields

in a clear image and in another your

thoughts keep circling around. The coherence

in the work is not easy to discover,

but requires an accurate associative

investigation from the spectator.

What for one spectator is a cacophony,

is a feast of color for the other.

Windmill Path, 2013,190 x 145 cm

The nice thing about painting is that so

next page: Costumes I, II, III, 2017, watercolor, 230 x 125 cm



Iused to photograph my paintings outside,

hang them on the sound barrier

along the motorway, or lay them on the

ruin of a building. Now I use objects as

foreign elements, which refer to something

outside the painting. Perhaps it is

impossible to break through the introverted

world of the painting or maybe

there is enough friction to confuse the

viewer and the maker… The nice thing

about painting is that so many already

has been done.


Hemeldoek, detail

For centuries paint has been messed

with and in many diferent ways, a

quality that can’t be matched by any

screen. That is why a painting must also

be ‘painted’, you must see the paint, no

matter how thin or empty some pieces

are: not only use the material, but also

listen to the material.....


Hemeldoek, 1997, various paints, shelfs, objects on canvas, 185 x 156 cm



Kijken naar Tillie,1998, various paints, objects, silicone sealant, shopping bag on canvas

Zu Hause, 2011, 165 x 210 cm, various paints and materials, textile on canvas and wallpaper 11

detail 1998 detail 2011

detail 2003-2017 detail 2005


detail 1997 detail 2010

detail 2017 detail 202

detail 2018 detail 2013


detail 2011 detail 1997

The genie is out of the bottle

This series of 4 paintings with a frame made

of textile were shown at the exhibition

Kwasiafrikani in 2008. The exhibition showed

art from African artists and artists with

a relation to the subject matter of colonial

history, both from an African and a European




Made in China, 2008, 190 x 130 cm

Phoenix, 2008, 190 x 130 cm 15


Red Dragon, 2008, 190 x 130 cm 17


Rich peoples painting, 2008, 190 x 130 cm


‘Famille noire’


KANGXI(1662-1722), CA1700-1720

The Maritime Museum describes it thus:

This striking and rare figure of an African was purchased

by the Maritime Museum (Amsterdam) in March 2018.

Not only is it an important piece to present as a product

of international trade by sea, but it also offers the opportunity

to place the stories from our maritime history in a

much broader perspective.

This small sculpture

could have been in

the painted room on

the one on the left,

next to the plates:

....How did they get

rich? Objects can’t

tell the whole story.

The figure connects stories about the trade between

Europe and the Far East, those of interactions between

cultures, clients and luxury, but also of prejudices, stereotyping

and the deprivation of freedom by slavery.

The statue was produced in China by order of a wealthy

European. We also call this Chine de Commande. It shows

a special mix of influences and interpretations. Famille

Noire refers to the complicated and expensive technique,

in which the body is covered with black enamel.

Small chance that the Chinese modeler has ever seen a

real African. He will have drawn on European prints and

given them his own twist. Although he has given African

divine status by letting him rise like a Buddha on a lotus

leaf, we see also various stereotypical characteristics that

are more often attributed to people from African backgrounds.

In our time, for example, the bright eyes, the

earrings and the red lips are seen as ‘racist’ or ‘inappropriate’.

In the 17th century there was less awareness of this:

the statue would have been an exotic status symbol in

the house of a very rich family.


Rough painting

like the combination of ‘dirty’ paint and ‘clean’ textile. It is the way they oppose and go together

I simultaneously. In 2018 I also made some new abstract paintings with this combination. I work a

lot on diferent things at the same time and can come back to it years later. After some time I can

group them together. They seem to be the most abstract paintings I made up to this point.


l.t.r: Abstract with tie, Abstract with mouse, 50 x 65 cm, 2014

under: Abstract igure, 90 x 120 cm, 2014-2018

Abstracts, 204-2018 21



Oude Niedorp

(gem. Hollandse kroon NH)

II have been working on a 3D

work called ‘Tentenkamp’ for a

SET#NET exhibition. The second

photo shows the surrounding of

the studio.


studio situation, 2018, working on SET#NDSM, Tentenkamp

Painting with accidents...

Iam known for throwing things down

or stumbling over something I put

there a minute ago myself. Sometimes

I change a big layer of paint on

purpose. Cleaning, rubbing the surface

of a painting always has been part of

the painting process under the shower

or with buckets of water (turpentine..).

It happened again when I worked on

the tents. One of the tents I turned upside

down which made a great shape. I

decided to paint the bottom while the

tent was laying on one side. Beautiful!

Later this paint came of far too easy…

With boiling water and a bop it came

of… I found out the hard way…

studio situation, 2018, working on SET#NDSM, Tentenkamp


Winter 2018: Fog

The quietness of the surroundings of

the new studio are a treat for the

soul. I enjoyed the area very much

especially in the winter when it was foggy,

wet and cold.

It forces me to a more introspective

attitude which provided some landscape

paintings in a complete diferent color



Winterlandscape, 2018, 100 x 100 cm, various paints, knitted form

Winterlandscape, 2018, 100 x 100 cm, various paints, knitted form 25


Winterlandscape, 2018, 100 x 100 cm, various paints, knitted form

Winterlandscape, 2018, 100 x 100 cm, various paints, threats 27

White kotomisi,

Queen of Surinam

I made this painting after a

stay in Surinam’s interior as an

artist in residence in 2012.

I googled the image of this

Surinam woman and painted

her on a canvas in which I irst

sewed folds.

She is standing on a balustrade

like a queen, wearing a traditional

Surinam headdress.

This shows immediately that

she is a black Surinam woman.

As a white European woman

I hesitated to color her face:

it seemed too easy a way to

paint a Surinam woman. First

of all painting her skin white is

the best artistic choice for me

and secondly I hope to disturb

stereotypical expectations as

well. You can still see anyway

this woman is from Surinam.


White kotomisi and queen of Surinam,

2012, 190 x 100 cm, various paints,

uttons, necklace, wood

Conversation with

Monika Dahlberg

Monika Dahlberg is very active on FB, I saw her energy,

follow her great work and humorous posts. Recently I

went to see her work at the PaltzBiennale, where she

showed a group of African art sculptures, which she

painted white. Most of the African objects came out

of our studio. The collection of African art of Klaas de

Jonge, anthropologist and human rights defender for 40

years, has found a home in the studio of Wim Vonk and

me. During the setup of the exhibition Monika received

some negative responses and questions: could she do

this? Change these pieces while they are cultural heritage

of Africa?

I have lived for more than 10 years with Klaas’ African

artworks in my studio. Klaas worked in African countries

fo forty years and knows fascinating stories about each

object. They were part of his work and connections to the

people in Africa. I am curious to know more about how

Monika looked at these works herself and about her act

of painting them white.

Monika: I now worked with these African statues but I don’t want

be seen as the artist who is only focused on Africa and black history.

I lived almost my whole life here in Holland so I also share that

history. My African roots are a part of me and not the whole story. I

just want to be an artist without any label like woman, black and so

on… and see myself in a greater whole.

Marja: Ok, but art comes from inside, from a personal source,

the soul of the artist. How can you avoid the facts that you are a

woman, black, born in Kenia and living in the Netherlands?

Monika: No, those are facts which I cannot deny but they are just

not my basic start or only focus. My work is not typically Western

but also not non-Western. I think it could be made even by you or

somebody else. I wonder which part makes me an African artist,

which part a Western artist and which part an artist?

Marja: You don’t analyze that for yourself?

Monika: No, not really. Now I used African art, which refers to

where I came from, mainly because I don’t know much about it.

I have to study and talk to people

the same as you would have to

do. For example Klaas knows a lot

about them, almost like a ‘white

negro man’. He looks at them

from an African point of view and

perhaps had to let go some of his

own ideas.

Marja: If those sculptures you

used were painted white by me

would that be diferent for you ? For me it would be a


Monika: I think it’s easier for me because it’s further

away from you, it’s not logical, normally not a part of

your world. So, this raises more questions for you and

you need to explain more. I do not need to explain a

certain part of it. In that sense, it does matter, but I

think it should not. I also want the inal image to be

independent. If you don’t know who made it and only

see the image, it must be a powerful image in its own


Marja: if I would paint that image white, I need to

explain more and I need to justify what I am doing in

that area.

Monika: You would be asked what you are doing more

quickly than when a dark person is doing that, as she is

busy with her own history.

Marja: You can also say that we have a common history,

but we each have our own role in it.

Monika: Yes. It’s precisely why I paint them white, I make

them the same for the eye, although that’s not the case, you can also turn it around.

The white layer I put on top of them does not hide where they came from. I often feel

like that, as a black person I came to a country with white people and that’s what I’m


Marja: You can also look at it like this: Images have been stolen from Africa, and are

now in Western possession. If I paint them white or maybe rather pink, maybe those

images show the same idea. So what’s the diference?

Monika: People will ask you why you do that? If you live somewhere and you adapt to

the country where you live, you search for what makes you you.

PaltzBiennale 2018, Monika Dahlberg


If you were living in Africa, you would look for things from Europe.

Marja: But then I ind things I would hate to see, for example, things that remind of

the slave trade. I wouldn’t use that so easily in my work...

Monika: But you can... precisely to make this visible. I don’t work for example with

Ceasar, the Roman emperor… hahaha

Marja:.. haha ... but you do work with European painting history sometimes, or Jan

van Riebeeck. You give them the Mickey Mouse ears too...

Monika: Yes, but that is another series of work, it refers to western cultural history.

I grew up here and live in a western society. The question is then: where are WE.. ?

Black people don’t often go to museums, because they don’t feel connected. But I

want to know more about that history, want to know what happened. In a way we

all want to be one big family on earth, but that’s not possible. By giving all people the

Ears I take away all their power, richness , nobility etc.. and by giving everybody those

ears it is like taking away peoples’ clothes.

I also make them funny and who knows, people then will come to the museum…

In the end I would love to show the sculptures or other work I made in Africa, and see

how they respond to this. What do they really think from their perspective?

Marja: Did you get any responses from other black artists?

Monika: No, not really. On

Instagram I have some Afro-

American friends. They did like

it but it was not a discussion.

But in the Whitney museum you

have more of these discussions,

they are the museum in the

U.S. that show ‘Black art’, they

are far ahead of us in this way.

Also in South Africa there are

inally openings of another kind

of art, not only the Western

mainstream art is leading.

Things have to change here too.

We are here in the Netherlands

not that far. We have so many

people from diferent countries,

there must be artists among

them, talented artists. But I

don’t see them, not in museums,

not at openings, they don’t get



Collage Monika Dahlberg

Black people are missing everywhere: on television, in politics, in Dutch movies,

blacks who have the leading role or black people in the streets in movies. It is changing,

look at the Sloggy ads, you suddenly see a black person in underwear, or in

other ads you see a black boy, but very obvious. In the arts it is more stereotype, you

don’t see so many black artists.

I would like more mixed exhibitions with artists from diferent backgrounds.

Again, I now used this kind of traditional objects, you could see it as traditional, but

I still don’t want to become that Dutch-African-woman-artist and so and so… don’t

want to be in this kind of box. I want to be seen as an artist and be part of the greater

picture of art and history worldwide.

July 2018 Kattendijke

Vigorous discussion

After this conversation I read the discussion about a painting in the Whitney Museum:

Open Casket by Dana Schutz (1976). A major riot broke out. The work is based

on wellknown photographs of Emmett Till’s unrecognizably damaged face in his

open coin. The 14-year-old black boy was horribly murdered by two white men in

Mississippi in 1955 after a white female shop assistant had falsely accused him of

sexually intimidation.

(translated from a Volkskrant article by Anne Van Driel 30 maart 2017)

The problem with Open Casket, according to some, is its creator: Dana Schutz is white.

And that makes her use of these images - singular proof of the lack of rights for

black America - for them as an ‘inappropriate

appropriation’. An improper appropriation

that must be removed from the museum.

After all, where does Schutz derive the right

to hijack a subject in which it is impossible

for her, from her privileged white position,

to empathize?

Compared to this kind of discussion the

conversation between Monika and me is

quite sweet and nice. I really don’t know

what my opinion would be in this. Would

I destroy my painting if I made it just to

make a positive contribution to history?

In a way I can understand that it is time to

keep your mouth shut and listen. It also

reminds me of the feeling I had when men

started to use textile in their art. It made

me angry at the time. Now I think: shouldn’t

art be a free area to create and research?

And we need humor, a power which

can open up.

Hero, 60 x 80 cm, 2012, oil-, acrylic, beads





I like art because I can make things we have never

seen before, images that surprise me and the

spectator. They pop up from my subconscious

mind and I can only give meaning later on. If you

make art with this attitude most things you create

are ‘strange’, unknown. For me the conversation

with an artwork inished or in progress is the most

valuable in making art. It can show us connections

we never thought of before.


Fly Away, 2007, various paints, necklace on canvas, 90 x 90 cm

This is a detail of a big size c-print (2.10 x 2.10 cm) made in 2006. At the time I was manipulating

found images and parts of photographed paint. I wanted to give the prints a ‘painted quality’.

Later when the printers were getting (too) good this became more diicult to do. The start of

large size printing (around 2000), blowing up a print made a lot of surprising details visible. The pixels

developed in an unexpected way. After it was printed I also used paint over the printed canvas. This

print is part of 4 prints of this size, they all have a mix of historical and traditional images combined with

contemporary inluences (IKEA for example).

Stranger, 2006, c-print on canvas, 220 x 220 cm 33

Schwarzmalen is a critical art project about public participation

and crowdfunding, relating to artists’ income. It is an

initiative of Astrid Moors and Marja van Putten.

With Schwarzmalen we question the call for public participation

and also the much-vaunted possibility of financing the

‘creative industry’ with crowdfunding. Public participation is

hot. In politics and society the idea lives that art must have

a ‘social use’ and be ‘broadly supported’. Artists who seek

adventure and do not earn any money with their work are labeled

hobbyists or are ‘out of date’.

The name Schwarzmalen is derived from the painting ‘Höhere Wesen

befahlen: rechte obere Ecke schwarz malen’ by Sigmar Polke


There have been three editions of Schwarzmalen in 2014, 2015

and 2018. The last one took place in Artchapel in Amsterdam

Zuid in April 2018. As with the previous two Schwarzmalen projects,

we have sold empty canvases again. This time through

the website Voordekunst.nl to test if it is possible to crowdfund

autonomous art. This was rather successful.

more info on: schwarzmalen.nl


Schwarzmalen 3, Exhibition, Art Chapel, april 2018


Still from video Unicorns, 2018 (Milkmaid pose)

Other activities

Schwarzmalen 1 /m 3

Schwarzmalen (paint

it black) is a project on

Facebook, I am organising

together with Astrid

Moors. In 2018 for the

third time with 8 artists.

The project is a critical

point of view against the

tendency to focus on the

commercial potential and

the taste of the public in

the arts lately. The title

refers to the painting of

Sigmar Polke. ‘Hohere Wesen

befahlen: rechte obere

Ecke schwarz malen’.


Assistent of Armando.

Since 1996 I do the

socalled preliminary

work for his sculptures.

Since 2005 together with

Wim Vonk. The sculptures

are also made in our studio.

Making this magazine

I heard he died 1-7-2018.


and member of the board.











Arttrust is my company,

creating websites,

mainly for

other artists and creative

businesses since 2002.


Flags of the world is

a project started in


I made paintings from the

lags of all countries of the

world (2008) with decorations

and colors

related to their lag.


Digitaal Kunst Beheer

is an organization

founded in 2016. Its

goal is digital preservation

and acces of the oeuvre of

artists who passed away.

I am one of the initiators


Working on this magazine we suddenly

heard Armando died. Because I

worked with him for a long time I put

here he text that Wim Vonk and me

put on FB.



Working with and for Armando for more

than 20 years has become part of our

lives. It is very special to have experienced

his company and to know him as a

very friendly man. What laughs we had

on our way to our studio where another

sculpture in progress was waiting

for him. He then gave it the Armando

touch, making the sculpture alive.

After the very irst meeting I said in

surprise ‘as if I was in Herenleed for a

while, he really talks this way...’ In 1997,

when I did the preliminary work for the

irst sculpture, a Kopf, with not much

texture yet. This has changed over the

years. Many sculptures(>75) followed.

We have a ‘thick Armando book’ full of

many anecdotes and Armando expressions,

which, like many who knew him,

also became part of our own language.

After Armando’s recovery, Wim and I

became the permanent team to assist

him with his bronze sculptures. Jokes,

proverbs and recurring rituals made

working with him very intense. It was a

privilege to work with him.

We can safely say that Armando helped

us in the wedding boat after BOT

(2006). In the large workspace where

we have realized BOT, Wim and I created

our joint studio. A joint studio,

which we also made available to fellow

artists of diferent disciplines. The collection

of African art by Klaas de Jonge

became also part of it. In the large

space we could both develop our work


At the same time, we continued to do

the preliminary work for the Armando

sculptures. In fact, after BOT had been

made, both Wim’s installations and

Marja’s paintings have taken of. Many

people ask whether we have not learned

much from him, we certainly have,

especially his autonomous attitude as

an artist. Also the recognition of his

relativization and necessity at the same

time in regard to the making of art.

Unfortunately Armando turned out to

be no exception. He used to say: they

say ... You die, but I’m not sure...

Dear Armando, thanks for everything!

Marja van Putten

Wim Vonk

2 July 2018



Encounters, soloistic female igure, 2018, 100 x 100 cm

Various paints, textile, cuts, threads on canvas.


© Marja van Putten

design > Marja van Putten

text > Marja van Putten

editing > Annechien Verhey


email > marjavanputten@gmail.com | mail@marjavanputten.nl

skype > marja.van.putten3

facebook > facebook.com/marja.vanputten

tel > +31 640662525

website > marjavanputten.nl

MARI/JA is a yearly Magazine - focussed on the artworks of Marja van Putten

Published by Arttrust Amsterdam

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