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Iris van Gelder: “Why does art have to be perfect?”

With her nonconformist collages Rotterdam-based artist Iris van Gelder is about to make an international breakthrough. Two of her works were selected for In Stock: Rotterdamse Fotografie, the current exhibition at Kunstuitleen Rotterdam. I recently interviewed Iris about a wide-legged Lil’Kim, blunt Italian scissors and her personal Kunstuitleen favorites.

Iris van Gelder interview 01Left: Iris van Gelder, right: ‘X’

So, what’s your fascination with collages?

To me, it’s a combination of art and image that happened completely by accident. When I made my first collage back in 2011, all the pieces of the puzzle came together – quite literally, because the magazine images I use are just like puzzle pieces. Soon after that, I started a Tumblr page called FASTTRASH on which I’ve published over three hundred collages. You need to keep a fast pace on the internet in order to stay relevant. When I spent a month on vacation in Italy, I even took a pair of  blunt scissors I found in the apartment I was renting and sharpened them on a rock. My urge to keep on making collages is that big.

I noticed that diamonds play a prominent role in your collages – what’s up with that?

The way diamonds are cut fascinates me. Some diamonds look like a giant hall with doors that each lead to a different world. Everyone around me collects images of diamonds for me. It’s so cool to get an e-mail from someone saying that they have a new batch of images of diamonds and jewels for me to pick up!

Iris van Gelder interview 02Left: Modern Life, right: Glitters everywhere!

What do you want to tell the world with your work?

There’s no Message with a capital ‘M’ in my work. I don’t work from a concept. For me, it’s good when a work comes about spontaneously. I never change anything afterwards, I let it go and move on to the next collage. Striving for perfection can be pretty tiresome. Why does art have to be perfect?

Also, I think it’s exciting when people give their own interpretation to an artwork. You always see something new in a good work of art because your mood has changed, because you’ve learned something new or just because you get older.

Iris van Gelder interview 03Left: Iris van Gelder with a photo of Lil’Kim she once rented at Kunstuitleen Rotterdam. Right: Inside Nature, the collage that can be seen now at In Stock: Rotterdamse Fotografie

And how did you get in touch with Otto Snoek, the photographer who selected your work for In Stock: Rotterdamse Fotografie? 

Ten years ago, Otto took a picture of me when I rented a photo of rapper Lil’Kim during an exhibition about hip hop at Kunstuitleen Rotterdam. After that first encounter, my mother used to run into Otto from time to time. At one point, she gave him an issue of the Dutch photography magazine New Dawn that featured my work. And that’s how Otto and I met again. Of course it’s pretty special to start out as a customer of Kunstuitleen Rotterdam and then end up showing your own work there.

What are your three favorite pieces at Kunstuitleen Rotterdam?

First there’s Spreeuwenhart – Sparrow’s Heart in English – by Bob van Persie. I think it’s beautiful to first see a pattern in the branches and then realize they actually combine to form the shape of a heart.

Bob van Persie Spreeuwenhart

Secondly, I’ve chosen this work by Daan van Golden because it reminds me of Delft Blue or Chinese porcelain. It’s timeless, perfect to have on display at home for a very long time.

Daan van Golden

And then finally, in Contacting My Angel by Henk Tas a diamond plays a promintent part – which of course I love! The reference to Michaelangelo’s painting The Creation of Adam makes this work iconic.

Henk Tas

What advice would you give to starting artists?

Find out what makes you happiest and then use that to develop your own style. Don’t copy from anyone else. It may be the long road, but it’s definitely more fun. My work is now featured in the Italian magazine Glamour – and that even amazes me!

BONUS TIME! These are my favorite collages by Iris van Gelder – what are yours?

Collage by Iris van Gelder /// More on Collage by Iris van Gelder /// More on Collage by Iris van Gelder /// More on Collage by Iris van Gelder /// More on Collage by Iris van Gelder /// More on Collage by Iris van Gelder /// More on


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