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Kieta Nuij in perspective

Kieta Nuij is a Dutch artist who lives in Holland and has worked as a sculptor since 1984. Initially she worked primarily in clay, since more than 25 years she makes sculptures in bronze.
We interviewed Kieta. 

What is the origin of your sculptures: where do your ideas come from?
“The honest answer is: I can´t tell. It is very difficult to explain in words. The realm of images is much wider than words can describe. Closest to it would be the word silence. Out of the silence images start emerging. My sculptures are not pre-thought, designed shapes. They appear out of the silence as if they have been waiting deep inside for the moment they are invited to come forward.

When the image comes forward, manifests itself, the hard work for me begins. I call it: the search for recognition. Every day I work in my studio where the image kind of fights its way out through my hands. This is not so much a process of workmanship - although that is essential - but rather a long lasting struggle, a permanent confrontation between the image inside and the one visible between my hands. And generally for a long time the object in front of me does not match with the image inside. It really is hard work! Perseverance is an absolute necessity to get the results I’m looking for. Sculpting is absolutely not for the easy-going! After having worked long enough, facing resistance and sometimes actual moments of despair the object in front of me actually coincides with the image inside. The artist and the sculpture recognize each other! A joyful and satisfactory moment and a moment of great relief”

Why did you choose to become an artist?
“It has never really been a question. From the early years in high school I knew I wanted to be a sculptor. It was obvious for me to apply for the Academy of Arts. It’s like a completely natural course of events.
Art is for me a necessity, a condition for life like food or breathing. You can’t do without it! It is my way to understand the world, to observe and translate it”

What are your sources of inspiration?
“I find inspiration in encounters with people and all the things they experience in life: the joy, the troubles, the beauty and hardships. The vicissitudes of everyday life. In every small event universal aspects can be found, aspects that we all encounter in different degrees in our lives. These aspects evoke images that can be translated in sculpture”

Can you distinguish stages of development in your work?
“After going to the academy I began working with waste materials supplemented with parts in clay. Afterwards I started to cast the small clay figurines in bronze. Bronze then became my favourite material, a perfect match for the shapes I was developing. Gradually more organic developed forms like Luna, the Landscapes and Jars.
Characteristic throughout my work is the use of materials that have the signs of long and intensive use. Worn pieces of cloth and wood, with the scars of time on them. They have become a kind of signature. My sculptures are never smooth or easy to hold. Sharp edges come standard.

From 2000 on, the human form gradually entered my work. In the beginning in small detail, only head and shoulders. In the years after the figures slowly showed themselves in full. In recent years, the human body is further elaborated and has become the central theme in my work. I first completely elaborate the body, every detail of it and then start dressing the figure with cloth. By dressing it, the figure starts to show his or her personality, the essence under the skin! The inner quality, the actual being, becomes visible. This paradox, the figure becoming visible at a deeper level by covering up, is a fascinating process for me and I hope this fascination will be shared by the audience”

Here, Not There
“About a year ago I started the project “Here, Not There”. It is an experiment in contact, isolation, loneliness and togetherness. The solitary figures are strongly expressive, sometimes shocking. In groups of identical figures the space between the figures becomes the essential part. I am fascinated to find out and make visible what happens between them.

I explore the tension between them: present, absent; distance, proximity; inside outside; introverted, directed outwards; together, alone. How do people relate to each other? What happens in the space between them? Can they shut themselves off from the outside world or do they stay in touch even if they want to withdraw? Questions which are expressed in my sculptures and which, I hope, will encourage people to start wondering”

Is there a sculpture you consider your best work?
“I can´t answer that. Every one of my sculptures is made with heart and soul and tells a story. The older works tell perhaps a different story than the recent ones, but they all reflect a piece of my world. In the course of time I find, that some of my older works are still interesting and relevant and some are not.
My most recent work must still prove itself, time has yet to do its work. Right now a sculpture that evokes many different reactions is “Here, not there III”. People react very different to this sculpture. Some find it harsh and repulsive, making them feel uncomfortable. Others are deeply touched by the silence and acceptation and experience a deep harmony in it. For me it is quite all right that people each have their own associations and that these are sometimes far apart”

The future of yourself and your work?
“I hope I can keep working for long, to have the opportunity to keep expressing myself through my work. That is the most important thing to me: to keep creating. An important factor in being able to do so in the future is to find markets, clients for my sculptures. This is not a goal itself, but people need to understand that without sufficient revenues artists – who in general are not financially independent – simply cannot keep on making good artwork.
I remain fascinated by what people experience and how this can and should take shape. In that sense I feel we humans are endlessly inspiring”




More than 25 years, Kieta makes sculptures in bronze. Her sculptures have a distinctive visual language. Shape, texture and patinas are in an exciting balance. The forms present themselves during the process of creation in her studio.
They manifest themselves in my mind and thereto in the material I work with.

See more on her website