Marjolein Labéeû graduated in 2010 at the Sint-Lucas Institute in Ghent as a Master in Free Arts. Since then she spends most of her time in her studio, based at Lindenlei in Ghent. We talk about her work, and how she sees herself as an artist.
Can you tell me Marjolein, who you are and what kind of artist you are?
Since I graduated in 2010, I rent a NUCLEO-studio. I try to work in the studio as much as I can, every day if possible. I make both figurative and abstract work. My work is mainly about finding identity. Referring to the past is crucial. One needs the past to discover the present and the future. I try to create a nostalgic feeling through my artworks. I am a visual artist and I want to express what I do in images rather than words. I want my images to do evoke things for the viewer even if it is a negative feeling. MaybeI'm a rather emotional artist.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I admire the work of the Flemish artist Thierry De Cordier. But I'm inspired by my own memories and surroundings too. I am also hugely attached to photos. Nostalgia again I suppose.
How does a work of art come about and when do you know it is finished?
It starts with an idea or a thought, something I've seen or things that evokes a memory or feeling. The diptych behind me is a portrait of an African man is a good example. I call him 'Marcel'. I got the idea for this painting on a trip through Nigeria. We went out for a drink with Nigerian family members and they brought some friends, I did not know these people but by being together they (and 'Marcel') became part of a beautiful moment. This became a lasting memory. Photographs were taken that moment, and I painted 2 portraits of that one man: on one canvas he looks away and on the 2nd he looks towards us. It looks like he is a part of my life now. The funny thing is, I do not even know what his real name is. But I call him Marcel. (interview continues under the image)
How do you motivate yourself to start with a blank canvas?
When I am standing in front of a blank canvas I already have an image or an emotion in my mind. I write down the things I feel or see in a book and let it rest for a while. Now and then there's a moment without any inspiration, but as I return to the basic concept helps me getting things clear.
What is more important to you? Concept, process or the final result?
They are all equally important. I put all my energy into a work of art and as the end approaches, it does not always have to be 'finished'. Sometimes I restart or continue working on the same canvas. I know almost certain whether a work of art is finished or not, although some of the works never seem to be finished. You can compare this to cooking, sometimes it needs a little more, sometimes a little less. It is a matter of feeling.
How long does it take to finish an object of art?
It depends. A painting takes two or three weeks. Sometimes it's finished in 1 day. Often I let the idea rest and start over when the time is right.
Are you a full-time artist or do you have another job?
I cannot make a living as an artist yet. I still need an additional income. besides my art.
How did you first get in touch with an art rental
In 2016, I got in touch with art rental Bernice. They checked out my website via NUCLEO. As an artist it's important to spread your work and have it exposed. Even if it's an older work. When it leaves the studio, I have more space for new things. The fact that it brings in money is a bonus. Bernice also promotes my work on their website.
How do you use the earnings you receive?
I use the fee for developing my oeuvre. I reinvest the money in my studio and it pays my tools, brushes, paint. But the most important thing is the time I can buy. Time I use to paint, think, read, ... in my studio. It's all part of the creative process.
What would you like to achieve in the art world?
I would like to be a full time artist.
What are the most important characteristics for an artist?
An artist has to make art because it is his or her passion. You have to do it with all your heart.
Do you have a tip for a beginning artist?
Keep working and never give up.