Lia Laimböck (1965) was just 33 years old and on her way to being one of the Netherlands most sought-after portrait artists. With her distinctive style - comprising an original  blend of realism, Japonaiserie and decorative elements - she had already immortalised many Dutch writers when she decided to abandon commercial portraiture for more experimental art works. The result can currently be seen at the museum De Buitenplaats in Eelde, where she is exhibiting her monumental paintings alongside the sculptures of Gerhard Lentink. Her radical decision to drop portraiture means a more precarious financial existence, but she has never been more productive and ultimately hopes to show het work in large international art spaces.

Several of her key paintings are not in the actual exhibition, including her 1996 homage to the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, in which she characteristically mixes lifestyle figuration with abstract decoration and textile patterns. In a way this work concludes a series of a allegorical portraits which led to her rapid breakthrough in the Dutch art world around 1993. The first of these depicted the writer Maarten 't Hart, which were purchased by the Netherlands Museum for Literature in The Hague. Via the museum and personal recommendations, other commissions followed. A meeting with her cartoonist and writer Marten Toonder also led to her making two portraits of him, including one with his wife. Laimböck's portraits with their stylised intimate gestures recall the

work of the sixteenth-century German painter Hans Holbein. Also noteworthy is the way in which she applies a transparent layer of paint over her lineal drawn figuration. Until mid-1996 this was in acryl and gold paint and thereafter in oils. Laimböck, who trained at the Royal Academy of Visual Art in The Hague, was encouraged to draw and paint by her mother, a gallery owner, from a young age.

Her current work is inspired by the origins of life as well as by her many travel experience with her partner Reinier Sijpkens, musician and performer. In the early 1990s the couple, equipped only with a few musical instruments and painting materials, visited East Europe, Indonesia and Brazil entertaining large groups of children with mime, music, dance and magic. In return they were often rewarded with meals and accommodation. Laimböck found the experience so heart-warming that it changed her outlook for good. The paintings she did with the children enriched her own visual language. From them she learned about unknown symbols,

Odes to Nature

such as the triangle that signifies a volcano on her island of java. Inspirational, too, were the impressive natural vistas, exotic tropical colours and tribal traditions, reflected for instance in new paintings like 'The Friends' (1999), depicting two young nude females embracing the sun, and 'Natus' (The Birth), showing a European giving birth in the native squatting position. The forces of nature is the theme of the almost monochrome paintings 'Treeman' (a diptych) and 'Nigth, Day, Nigth', a masterly triptych depicting the life cycle in the form of a tapir, naked woman and grisly old man. These too show a return to more figurative visual elements. 


(Dit artikel is overgenomen uit ‘Hedendaagse  Schilderkunst’).



Index page [< Previous] [Next >]