Marta Nijhuis is an Italian-Dutch transmedial artist based in Lyon, France. Due to her mixed philosophical and artistic background, she is lecturer at the Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 (France), at the EAC Lyon, School of Engineering in Culture, Art, and Luxury (France), and at Hobbyceram International School of Decorative Arts in Milan (Italy), where she delivers courses that intertwine her artistic and theoretical competences.
Her artworks have been on show in several galleries, cultural associations, foundations, and institutions both in Europe and the USA. Among these are the Cappelletti Gallery, the Ponte Rosso Gallery, the Press Circle, and the General Consulate of the Netherlands in Milan (IT), the Giorgio Correggiari Foundation in Bari (IT), the Manufacture des Tabacs, the Galerie Céline Moine and the Galerie Françoise Besson in Lyon (FR), the Maison de l’International in Grenoble (FR), the Centre for Fine Arts at the University of Rhode Island (USA). She has been working along with musicians on the conception of record sleeve covers. Her latest record sleeve image is that of Blue Rose Code’s award-winning album The Water of Leith.
Her works are part of private collections in China, England, France, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA.
Winding one's way through Marta Nijhuis' "Faire écrans"
Amy Anne Foley
In winding one's way through Marta Nijhuis' "Faire écrans," one is felt by the shadows of branches, her far-reaching appendages stretching out to us from the earth. Nijhuis professes the influence of Mauro Carbone's philosophical writings on screens and shadows on her artwork. During our interview, she recalls Carbone's realization of the existence of two screens, one positive and one negative, in the presence of light and shadow. He imagines the hand as a negative screen intercepting the light and its shadow as the image projected onto the surface, which is the positive screen. One must look to a series of Rorschachesque trees on a far wall, which Nijhuis would deem the positive screen, as a reminder that one is, in fact, in a gallery. The painting grounds and orients while making the familiar strange and distant. The shadows of light, color, and segmented forms produce a feeling that is spatially smooth. As branches pass coolly over the eye, they suggest that one could be walking through a forest, dreaming about a forest, inside of a painting, or in a forest's memory. The mind and body speak to one another. The discourse is one of disorientation and completion. The body asks itself and then answers that it is all of the above. At once, it evokes the familiar sensations of the body in contact with the unmediated while challenging the singularity of that experience. It is, as Heidegger believed, the joining of earth and world. The participant is immersed in the unconcealedness of truth.
Nijhuis taps into collective experience, opening a hollow for serious play. What occurs within this gap is a dialog about nature and representation, experiencing subject and art object, fantasy and memory. As these questions arise for the participant, the mind does not wonder irresolutely; rather, "Faire écrans" answers firmly that it is a thing in itself. Nijhuis' self-professed intellectual indebtedness to Maurice Merleau-Ponty is evident in her making an entrance for aesthetic experience. The making of screens is the making of a distinct language, as Merleau-Ponty says of Stéphane Mallarmé's poetry. Merleau-Ponty writes that he "describes the essential structure of the thing and accordingly forces us to enter into that thing." Similarly, Nijhuis refers to experience while causing us to enter into the artwork. In her art, entrance is literal. It is referential; more importantly, it is self-referential. Charles Baudelaire insists, "A poem does not say something—it is something." Nijhuis does both. "Faire écrans" is the confluence of being and perceiving, thing and shadow, inside and outside, art and ourselves. As we exit, its entrance ever expands.
The Moonshine of Marta Nijhuis' Art
Galen A. Johnson
To find that phosphorescence, that light within, that’s the genius behind poetry
I think it is also part of the genius behind the art of Marta Nijhuis, finding, together with her own inner light, the light of the world’s dawn. Bright, brilliant colors are everywhere in these works. Like Barnett Newman, Nijhuis also loves acrylics for their unmatched luminosity. Newman titled a series of his paintings “Who is afraid of red, yellow and blue?” (1967). Not Marta Nijhuis, we might rejoin.
There is sky in these works too, a lifting of the eyes, head and chest upward toward the canopy of the heavens. The moonshine of this art is a different kind of intoxication, a liquor composed of deep breath, sweet air, purple, green, and blue: birds too with their wings, and reverie. These are daydreams that lift the spirit toward the sky and the sublime, midway between the figure and non-figure. Marta Nijhuis shows us that remarkable cooperation and dialogue with the materials and the world that marks the patient labor of the artist. Nothing can be rushed (Paul Klee) and art is the practice of slowness and surprise.
But if these are reflections of light, sky and air, there is also something elemental, for the artist has not forgotten the ancient element of water, the darkness of black and the emptiness of white that evoke the stillness of death and the silence that yet speaks. This black and white appears in the water photographs, one of which is titled “Les voies du silence” (2011). She has also not forgotten her geometry of lines, curves, and shapes. The very most recent work of the “Passages” tableaus (2013), gives us the emotions of abstract expressionism, if not Newman’s zips dividing the land from the water at the first moment of time, then almost drips, vertical colors bleeding together, blending color and line, blending eye, hand and heart. The heart feels the generosity and joy in these works, and for me, maybe even something like happiness.
Duane H. Davies
Marta Nijhuis’ art is a happening. Her art work happens among us. These paintings work—for us, with us, and on us; and they call for more work as we experience them. They are effective and evocative. As such, their work is blissfully incomplete. Her fertile paintings are at once organic and chaotic. She paints becoming, but becoming as a secret something. We celebrate this incompleteness as a invitation, a beckoning, a summoning. These paintings implore us to work with her—to engage in the slow patient labor of looking and listening to the unique mysteries each one reveals. Marta Nijhuis paints just enough so that these paintings live for us. Through these astonishing paintings we rejoin the world anew, transformed.
Marta Nijhuis playfully titles this exhibit Reflessi(oni). For her works are truly reflections as both image and thought. The deceptive simplicity and stunning elegance of her work reveals the surprisingly complicated interrelations of image and thought. A yellow wall, the white a moon could envy, or a dusty melancholy reflect and recreate our world. She paints the truth of being with the promise of becoming. Marta Nijhuis’ reflessi(oni) are both advent and event.
Marta Nijhuis’ art works our minds, our hearts, and our bodies. The colors and textures are wild explosions of being. Her paintings reveal unpredictable contingent truths—reflessi(oni)—that happen among and between our bodies.
When Coming Across a Painting by Marta Nijhuis
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
When coming across a painting by Marta Nijhuis, words should disappear with a smile, just like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. This way, they could let its rhythm and shapes stay. I say stay in order to avoid any unlikely distinction between being and appearance. For those shapes and colors do, of course, appear, but in appearing they persist, as it is often said of Being. In short, they stay.
In spite of all, here are the words, the very words that the encounter with a painting by Marta Nijhuis immediately reveals as inadequate: namely, the words of philosophy. Such words were born to distinguish: first of all, to distinguish appearance from being. Secondly to distinguish, within the being, shapes from colors. As if the shapes still kept some trace of the supposed stability of Being, which the colors would make vertiginously stumble. As if the drawing mimed the gesture of thought that soberly defines — that is, once again, distinguishes — and the colors exposed us to the carnival of sensations and feelings.
The encounter with Marta Nijhuis’ paintings puts such words to silence, urging those who cannot do without them to look for different words that, just like her paintings, may be able to come into the world as if they had always been awaited to say what always had to be said. As if the world itself had suggested them to say our undistinguished staying with it. Only to vanish in front of Marta Nijhuis’ paintings, precisely with a grateful smile.