‘Looking for Janey’

In the intimate space of my studio I cherish the framed photocopy with the words ‘Previous life’ written on it. As predicted by the cup-bearer I recognised myself in the eyes of the anonymous woman. With this solo exhibition, exactly twenty years later, I wish to illustrate how this discovery has influenced my artistic endeavours.

Annemarie Jansen, Previous life, 2004
Felt-tip on inkjet copy of ‘Jane Morris leaning on an elbow’ by John Robert Parsons, 1865.
Original photo by Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0
Photo of Previous life by Margje Bijl c/o Pictoright 2022

After discovering Jane Morris’ name and life story I first focused on the physical similarities. What I saw as the biggest difference, her hair, became a topic in itself. Based on the works of art for which she posed in the 19th century I created the series ‘Hair as in’. With this I introduced the new direction in my work during a group exhibition in Amsterdam. 

Margje Bijl, 2009
‘Hair in a shell’, ‘Hair looking down’ (private collection), ‘Hair leaning on an elbow’,
‘Hair reclining’, ‘Hair as an aphrodisiac’, ‘Hair as a goddess’
aquarellepencil, Chinees paper on canvas, 53 x 63 cm.
Photo Hein van Liempd
c/o Pictoright 2023

As an artist, I always enjoy learning new skills and coming back to previous concepts with a different perspective. As a result this first series stuck in my head for a few years until I committed to a sequel. This time I took the formal language of the hairstyles as a starting point and used different hardness pencils to create more spatiality and movement in the drawings on smooth paper. Landscapes emerged. Jane’s hair only functioned as a starting point.
One of these drawings led to participation in the group exhibition ‘Nominees Van Ommeren de Voogt Prize 2018’ and in the accompanying article ‘Herself’ Klaske Havik concluded with: ‘The muse gradually disappears from the picture and leaves room for other, new stories. New, but anchored in the search for the double, for the self, for the other. They invite you to look for the detail and what can be read in it.’ 

A few months later I started the ‘Fiber as in’ series. The structure of the paper had now become the most important source for determining the image. With a thin mechanical pencil I traced the shadows of the fibers on the Chinese paper. This led to the next step: creating my own paper. I created small waves in it which I further developed with pencil or ink. Doing so I gradually let go of the concept of the other and the waves of Janey’s hair changed into the waves of my youth, which I spent on board of a flat bottom in Friesland. 

Margje Bijl, ‘Fiber as in March and June 2021’
Pencil on handmade paper, 11 x 19 cm.
c/o Pictoright 2023

Last summer I started the new series ‘Water as in’, out of the desire to be completely surrounded by water. A viscous, dark gray, glistening mass with overexposed highlights. The sea resembles liquid lead. This image has become the starting point for my material research including graphite powder and tiny glass plates. In this way I would like to show an authentic self-portrait, within the framework of my visual double biography. 

Margje Bijl, ‘Water as in October 2023’
Pencil, ink, Chinese paper on canvas, 100 x 100 cm.
c/o Pictoright 2023

This article was written for Pulchri Magazine, published in December 2023.

‘Looking for Janey’
From February 24th up till March 19th 2024
Voorhoutgalerie, Pulchri
Lange Voorhout 15, the Hague, NL

All you can imagine is real

The current members of the ballot- and exhibition committees will exhibit in the Klinkenberg galleries from July 15th (opening at 16.00) up till August 13th 2023.

Myself I am participating with a diptych inspired by this photograph of Jane Morris in her later years.

Original photograph ‘Mrs. Morris and her two daughters at Kelmscott Manor’
by Carter & Co, 1905 ©The Fitzwilliam Museum.

For my diptych I have used the anthotype technique to create an afterimage of this photograph on an original cabinet card by the very same studio. I decided to present this image in the way it would have been included in a 19th century photo album, instead of tilting it.

Leaving You Behind 
anthotype with oak apple on cabinet card by Carter & Co.
(altered and reproduced with kind permission of The Fitzwilliam Museum)

Before I could print the image of Jane Morris I had to remove the original photograph of two anonymous girls. This albumen print was altered by me with aquarelle- and bister ink.

Leaving You Behind 
drawing on albumen print by Carter & Co.

Van Ommeren de Voogt Prize 2018

Proud to announce that my drawing ‘Hair as in August 2018′ was nominated for the van Ommeren de Voogt prize 2018. Prize winner Paul Nassenstein, Sandra Thie and myself are awarded with a trio exhibition in the Hardenbergzaal at Pulchri, from 13 January till 3 February 2019.

I am showing a new series of 14 pencil drawings, inspired by Jane Morris’ hair. Made between 2017 and 2019 with aquarelle pencil on aquarelle paper, Japanese and Chinese paper.

On 20 January Sandra Thie and myself will have an artist talk with Ria Doolaard, from 15.00 till 16.00 at the van Hardenbergzaal in Pulchri.

Hair as in August 2018

Portrait as in June 2018

Pulchri magazine published an article about the ‘van Ommeren de Voogt Prize 2018’. The piece about my work is written by Klaske Havik and this fragment was translated by Pulchri.

The pencil drawings of Jane’s hairstyles have been transformed into leading a life of their own in these new drawings. They reach into the depths of drawing itself. The portraits still show traces of thoughts and stories. In the detail of skin and hair lie labyrinthine landscapes in which the viewer can get lost. The muse gradually disappears from the image and leaves room for other, new stories. New, but anchored in the search for the doppelganger, to the self, to the other. They invite you to look the detail and think about what you can read in it.

Hair as in October 2018

Hair as in June 2017 and March 2018

Wabi-Sabi Portrait, 2017 and 2018
(on loan)