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Belgian, 1996°
Living in Antwerp, Belgium



Nel Maertens graduated in 2019 as a master in fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. Besides projects in applied art (textile and costume design), Maertens focuses on an autonomous fine art practice. She is an omnivalent artist, member of artist collective FAAR, and likes to engage in cross-sectoral collaborations.

‘I explore color, composition, material, writing and energy in my drawing and painting practice. My work results from an intense process in which the boundaries between the process of creation, conceptualization and realization often blur.

I often work “en-plein-air”, yet the representation of the landscape is primarily a way of conceiving all kinds of other narratives. I mainly aim to create an illusion, to evoke other meanings. At first view, my work appears to be very diverse. Yet the speed with which I draw and put an image on paper is characteristic. I often work with oil stick, oil pastel and soft pastel on paper or cardboard: materials that are characterized by their manageability, directness and typically quick markings that favor the “gesture”.

Many of my drawings are like diary entries; they are records of direct visual impressions, as well as of conversations and situations. I tend to quickly translate the things in my surroundings into a visual image. They acquire a sense of urgency. My work mostly “flows” out of me intuitively. Even though it is very personal, I always try to elevate the work to a more general human level.

A form of humor and nonchalance is often present in my work. The titles or added sentences bear witness to my sense of self-relativism. They are rather spontaneous, mental sketches that complement the drawings, as a way of lending the work a certain perspective. The serial aspect is very prominent, I repeat and slightly modify my subjects by changing the format of the image, altering the colors, materials, or shapes. I literally put my impatience and continuous search for an even better version on paper. I play with the authorship and autonomy of the final image. This repetition lends my work a narrative character, an almost cinematographic suspense.’ 

Text based on an interview with curator Charlotte Crevits;
︎︎︎ Interview Strombeek

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Foto: Zena Van den Block