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Takeover #213 Nancy de Graaf

Nancy de Graaf: Instagram / Website

#213 (26/09 - 30/09, 2022) written by Robin Speijer, interview by Joris Broekhoven

Floating chairs, seaweed-esque shapes, or the silhouette of a pigeon. In the paintings of Nancy de Graaf many different things seem to appear (and disappear). Nancy graduated in 2016 from the AKI’s Fine Art - Painting department. From the moment she started creating work people were always present within them. However, in the last 2 or 3 years that has gradually changed. Slowly the human figure started being torn apart. Then vacant spaces where people had left objects behind started to appear, which is now starting to transform into empty spaces filled with abstraction.

“I really like chairs or furniture pieces. They’re objective, and don’t say much about the rest of the space. I can sometimes ascribe human traits to them too, which provides them with a whole life story.”

Creating the frame of the painting is literally where Nancy starts her works. It’s important for her to be part of this manual process. She has two ways which can inspire what will be depicted. In the back of her head could be a photographic image, an object, or even a feeling that’s constantly asking her to do something with it. Another way is derived from play, where she may throw a bunch of materials on the ground, or build a boat of canvas stretchers.

“I used to use creating things as a tool to calm down. However, now I instead become uneasy if I haven’t made any new work in a while. It’s a necessity for me to be an artist and keep on making things.”

Nancy wants her paintings to be as dynamic as possible. The layers of the work play an important role in this. What happens if you paint what is supposed to be the foreground in the back or vice versa? And how do the shapes depicted relate to one another?
As she’s painting, words and sentences pop up in Nancy’s head. Almost like a rhythm that repeats itself. Sometimes this leads to her writing a short story instead. Writing has become an important part of her practice. She’s looking into how she can integrate these texts with her visual works more.

“It’s always about balance. So many elements come together in my paintings, it’s like a puzzle. Sometimes a work may need just a dot more, and then it all comes together.”

In her takeover, Nancy wants to show us the gradual change in her works, such as the disappearing human figure, and her change in themes. In the stories she will show behind the scenes and her interpretations of exhibitions she visited this past summer. We may also get an impression of all the things that get stuck in her head and inspire her.

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