For as long as can be remembered ancient civilizations have painted murals as a records of their existence, or as an enhancement to their living space. Today the mural is still popular as an artistic decoration in our interiors, in urban spaces to revive the greyness of modern architecture, and also in the anti establishment decoration of graffiti art.
My visit this time took me to Beijum, Groningen to the house of Annejoke Luiting. With a little mobile help and a lot of cycling around I finally found her house. The reason being that the numbering of the houses seemed to bear a striking resemblance to a thought process conceived by Dali, aimed to confuse and infuriate.
Upon entering Annejoke’s house I came into a hall the floor of which was decorated with a swirling mural. A staircase led up to the living area where another mural could be seen just before we entered of a decidedly Art Nouveau influence. The background, a warm orangey colour could be found to repeat itself throughout the decor of the apartment. The area was filled with the scent of aromatic oil, and three cats strolling around or sleeping in specially prepared baskets. Central to view was a large painting of a rose in warm shades of yellow. We sat down to coffee accompanied by a rather heavenly chocolate and Annejoke began to tell me about herself.
As a child Annejoke’s interests were with fashion, which led at the age of twenty-five to fashion school in Amsterdam. Here although she enjoyed the study it became apparent that she was not commercial enough for the fashion world. Confirmation of this was to be seen when she produced a painting for her end examination! After this she changed artistic direction and there was no stopping her, she had found her passion. Painting backdrops for a musical, mural commissions via friends and acquaintances as well as painting for her own pleasure began the build up of her portfolio.
Working part time as a telephonist/receptionist at Eelde Airport, Groningen brought in her first major commercial mural sponsored by Dutch Bird. Her assignment was to jazz up the rather boring departures hall and at the same time make it child friendly. This she managed to do not only by her use of colour and subject matter but also by the interactive nature of the mural, complete with drawers that can be pulled out of the wall. Since then she has had a lot of private commissions.
Her colour palette consists of warm oranges, reds, pinks and yellows and a major influence is the decorative style of Art Nouveau and the artists from that period. In particular including Gustav Klimt, J W Waterhouse and Lawerence Alma Tadema. The classical and marble renditions in the work of the latter intrigued her so much so that she has tried to reproduce the technique in her murals. Her use of shape is generally curvaceous and flowing, and the overall effect is graphic but painterly.
When asked about her philosophy on life Annejoke believes that there is a central “rode draad’, (red line) that we all follow. We are confronted by hardships, illness and problems to make us look at what we are doing, to accept change and thereby learn from it. This is also true of her personal paintings; she believes she still has a lot to learn about expressing herself in her work in order to more than scratch the surface of who she is.
More information about Annejoke and her work can be found here.