We were very lucky to get our hands on an exclusive (online, thank you COVID-19) interview with Nicole Kuiper, a young and vibrant Spanish artist currently based in the Netherlands. Her work is both exciting and intriguing – constantly challenging our perception of the ordinary. A personal favourite of ours is her video work of “me, when I encounter myself”, an exciting watch where the artist challenges the elasticity of her own skin, and the perception and acceptance of herself within her body.
Having moved country at a young age, culture has been pivotal in her development as an artist, which at Don’t be a Stranger, as a travel platform, certainly spiked our interest!
Read along to find out about what motivates her, and how as an artist, she has been able to flourish within the creative Dutch environment.
Hello Nicole, we hope you are well! Why don’t you tell us a bit about your yourself and your background to start off with?
I am Nicole Kuiper and I am from Spain, born and raised in Alicante. I then moved to the Netherlands to study Fine Arts in the Minerva Art Academy. Throughout my ongoing studies I have tried many different practices; painting, drawing, sculpture – but I see myself working with photography, video and performance the most.
I usually start off with a concept which I use as my source of inspiration. I work by experimentation, so I tend to mix media, but I can’t categorise myself under a certain type of practice because I always discover to love a new one. I enjoy discovering new media and until I feel I have found the one which suits my concept best, I keep on going. One of my greatest sources of inspiration is philosophy. For example, I am currently mesmerised by the Absurdist Philosophy; Camus’ ideas on how to live life have stuck to my head. One should live off their passions, freedom and desire to revolt.
So you say you have been brought surrounded by different cultures, do you think this has impacted the way you see the world and your art?
I’ve been brought up surrounded by different cultures and I believe it has had an impact in my way of perceiving the world. Once I moved to the Netherlands I realised how much of an impact culture can have on you. I realised it not only the difference in food and weather, but the way you express yourself, the jokes you make, the way you dress and the way you interact with others. I believe that this had an impact in myself and inevitably in the art I produce. Being in contact with other cultures has made me realise we all look at the same stage in different ways. As an artist, I aim to communicate with the most diverse audience possible, so I always keep in mind how different cultures make associations with my art, and that can definitely shape the final image of my work.
On that matter… what does art mean to you?
To me, art is the projection of illusions into the physical world, a study that not only uses logic but gives space for your unconscious to shine. Through art, the world of illusion and physical are brought together. Illusions are perceived as real as concrete but they are, in fact, not ‘real’ – they are senseless.
The artist becomes an artist because they intend to show their art by naming it art. But art is within all of us, everyone is a potential artist. Art is culture, we make culture, we are art. Even when we don’t intend to do art, we are performing different roles, directed by social norms, culture background.. etc – and this is inevitably art too.
What about your personal favourite? What piece are you most proud of producing?
This is a difficult question, I always tend to be proud of my latest work… until I create a new one. This is because what I most enjoy is the process of making an art work. I feel proud when I know I have been able to develop my critical thinking, when I encounter limitations and I work around them, and when my audience comes to a similar narrative as I have. Although I must highlight – I don’t believe it is important to fully understand an art work, and in fact, sometimes it’s not even necessary to understand anything.
That’s a very interesting and accurate point of view I had never thought of! Recently you have done a lot of image-based film work, what made you decide to take your artwork into that realm?
I took my artwork into film making because I am currently stuck inside a realm of research. I am investigating subjects, objects, time and space. Yes, I guess that sounds very broad, but at some point I realised I couldn’t investigate further if I didn’t experiment with it myself – and so I became a performer. The need to document my work introduced me to film making, and once inside the two fields, I grew to love them. My aim to communicate with the biggest audience possible has also influenced my decision to research body language, and again this falls into performance.
What is your experience as an artist in Holland like? Is there a place you like to go to get your “creative juices” flowing?
I am very happy to be developing my artistic practice in the Netherlands since there is an incredible amount of help available to students; I can enter many museums for free (there are cards available to access more than 400 museums in the whole country), plus there are also discounts for students and residents for public transport. Also, you can apply for funding to help develop your career!
I live in Groningen, so to be more specific about my particular art-scene, the government encourages art students and artist to cover the city in street art. The faculties work together so one can develop inside a wider art community. The entire city, (I am talking about clubs, restaurants and festivals) encourage students to participate and become involved with them. There are many art residencies, so artist from all of the world come here, to be inspired by our small but intense city. That gives us students the opportunity to develop a professional artistic practice, and expand our network.
When you walk around Groningen, there is art hidden all around, so much in fact it feels like a museum. The first time you come to visit you may not even notice, it certainly took me a while to realise myself! I get my inspiration in the everyday life – I like the ‘ordinary’. I find the architecture incredibly beautiful, but to me there is a very unusual thing about it; all buildings have great windows at their living rooms. The houses aren’t too tall, so when you walk through the city you can literally see inside everyone’s home. I find it very funny, and equally strange. Where I live, there isn’t too much light, so all of these windows are always lit up. You find yourself walking, and without intending to, you encounter many living scenes framed by windows, each with its own atmosphere. For instance, you can see intense red colours coming out of a huge square window, with music blasting out and people dancing. You then walk two more meters and you find an adorable couple, lit by warm yellow light, having a coffee in the tranquility of their home. And all of this is completely visible to strangers!
I guess I made my point clear, walking through the city brings me inspiration.
What are your favourite galleries?
One of my favourite galleries in the Netherlands is the Kröller-Muller Museum – it has an incredible collection of the most inspiring artists; Van Gogh, George Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Mondrian!
The Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam is also incredible; it possesses the greatest paintings of the golden age of the Netherlands. The Groningen museum is also very nice, it changes its exhibitions often so I can count on the fact that when I visit, there will always be something new to see.
As an artist, what city would you like to be based in and why?
As an artist I am still not sure where I want to be based, but for the time being I plan to stay in the Netherlands, maybe in Amsterdam. I believe this country recognises artist and allows them to experiment, plus I am looking forwards to pursuing academic studies in the field of philosophy.
Thank you Nicole, it was a pleasure speaking to you and getting to understand your work better. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours, and will make sure to keep our viewers posted. In the mean time, where can they follow you on social media?
My instagram is @nicolesart17 and I currently have a website under construction!