A terracotta pot filled with tiny white-faced violas marks the start of the ascent to the first floor house in multi-toned redbrick, in the Korreweg neighbourhood of Groningen. Tripping lightly up similarly coloured brick steps, I pull on the brass bell handle and wait. The door is opened by Roos van Pagée, bronzed by the sun and recently returned from her holidays in France. A slight figure, dressed in a light, black shift dress, dark locks of hair tumbling past her shoulders. Momentarily embarrassed, she admits that she thought that our meeting was next week, but invites me in anyway.
She leads the way into an open plan living room, stylish in its décor; walls covered with artwork, that of her own and other artists. Before we head up another flight of stairs, drinks in hand, to her studio, her son: 10-years-old, denim shorts and green and white striped T-shirt wistfully asks if he can take the baby guinea pig out of its cage, a new addition to the household. “Later” is the reply.
The space upstairs, is a large open plan area, half serving as a bedroom the other half a studio. Flooded with sunlight, white curtains flap idly in the opening of the balcony doors and in the middle of the room there is the most enormous and stunning ornately carved, Indonesian bed, raised high off the ground on four sturdy wooden legs, so that you really have to climb up into it. Turning left, we enter Roos’s studio; two enormous canvases each several metres across of work in progress, flank the room: figurative, life-like, ethereal in colour and experimental in composition, both exuding a calm similar to their surroundings. Water-based oils are Roos’s preferred medium; she likes their oily consistency, the long drying times and resulting move-ability of the paint.
Having viewed her website I am curious as to where Roos finds her inspiration. She has her own personal twist on reality from which she draws in order to realize her creations. Like most artists she is influenced by her own experiences, as well as the world around her. This she uses as a starting point, but feels that her work should also encompass the intangible too; it should pass the realms of ‘the ordinary.’ As she says:
“When you enter the realms of imagery through emotions, as opposed to reality, you enter a world that cannot be described bywords.”
Her figures come to life through reference to photos made of people she has asked to pose for her; they are realistic in skin tone and facial features, but the poses are unusual. A model may lie with her head close to a table surface, whilst another, sword in hand and dressed for fencing, has a stabbing duel-like stance. This is then furthered by the inclusion of the esoteric, in the depiction of beautiful materials and colours, but she says, the trick is to make sure that it doesn’t become too superficial.
A particular series, Meisjes van Verkade, which caught my eye, is where it is not just one female figure that occupies the canvas but two (and occasionally three). The figures are mirror images or twins, with maybe one tiny discrepancy that one figure will be looking out at you whilst the other looks away. The reason for this Roos explains that there is more of a universal dimension in two of something as opposed to one:
“With two there is more than one…as a result of this it can continue living on without me…also, the two of them have something in common with each other.”
Initially, Roos trained to be a creative therapist as a back up to the Art College Aki she had followed in Enschede, which meant she was also qualified to teach. Finding that she was never able to get down to her own work, she left employment in the former in favour of giving lessons in drawing and painting. This she still continues to do for small groups, some of which take place in her studio.
So far this year, she has exhibited in the library in Groningen and has several up and coming exhibitions in the Province later this year. She has a very distinctive illustrative style, which has meant that she has come in the top twenty-five people, four times in a Belgian, kid’s book illustration competition; the book has yet to be published.
When it comes to the art market, she finds the German market the best. There people are more prepared to pay for artwork, particularly when a recently purchased house needs re-styling.
If money was no object she would like to have a second, very large studio, preferably in a beautiful land by the sea and continue as now, painting.
If you’d like to see more of Roos’s: here
First published in the Connections magazine, #33 Autumn 2011