Romy Muijrers graduated from Royal Academy of The Hague only two years ago. With her dream-like black and white drawings and delicate paper installations, she managed to claim her spot in the art world straight away. She is represented by Witteveen Visual Art Centre and was part of the Prospects & Concepts Show at Art Rotterdam 2018. Romy’s studio is at her home in The Hague.
Can you graduate from art school in drawing?
At art school, you either study autonomous art or sculpture or painting & printing. Drawing doesn’t have its own programme, but yes, you can graduate in it.
Drawing has always been my medium, also before I studied. In my first year at the academy, I had to learn a wide range of techniques and I ended up painting a lot. It was quite a struggle! Colour turned out to be a dilemma for me and I hated waiting for the paint to dry…
It was only at a masterclass of Marcel van Eeden when I discovered that you can also “just” draw, as an artist. Drawing in black and white works much better for me. It’s more powerful.
What material do you use?
I work with nero pencils. They are very black and fat. Something between charcoal and oil pastels. I like the fact that you cannot entirely erase it. My work is about time, thus seeing what is underneath and also the mistakes you have made, belong to it. Each line you draw or erase is part of the work. I often tear my paper and pin it to the wall. The wall is an empty page for me and it becomes part of my installations. By modelling and bending, I transform the paper into a three-dimensional space, like the space in your head. It is a stage set that you can explore and stroll through. If you frame the work it becomes separate pieces but I want it to tell one story together. I don’t mind that the paper is ageing: It is my memories, they are also ageing and fading.
Why The Hague?
I grew up in Roosendaal, but I always knew that I didn’t want to stay in Brabant. In 2011 I came to The Hague to study at The Royal Academy of The Hague. And that’s where I still live.
Can you describe your theme?
You can call my theme “in search of lost time”, like Marcel Proust’s novel. I go back to moments in the past that are meaningful to me. I draw because I am afraid of losing certain memories. Moments that I want to recollect. Times that I am longing back to. With my pencil, I wander back to these memories, desires, thoughts and dreams. It translates my emotions into lines: scared, desiring, dreamy or organic. The mass of lines you see represents the mass in my head. With my shapes, textures and lines I try to bring structure into the chaos between now and then. My pictures are inner self-portraits. Therefore I am also the model in my pictures; I am the one who sees this, the one who is experiencing this space. Using other figures would be pointless.
What is your process?
I start out with some accidental stains on the paper so it is not white anymore. They function as a grid. In these stains, I start searching. While I wander through the paper without a goal, things are happening. I never make sketches. A word, a sentence or lyrics can be sketches for me.
Where do your textures come from?
The lines and textures that I use are my visual language. You can compare it to handwriting. The pencil translates my emotions directly onto the paper. They “read” as sad lines, lovingly lines, warm lines, etc. But I also try to explore new textures and teach myself new ways of drawing. Some textures keep coming back because they have a certain meaning. Others disappear. They don’t have any importance in the context of the work.
Do you know when a piece is finished?
Not at all! Sometimes it seems finished and when I pin it to the wall a week later I have to continue working on it.
What does your day in the studio look like?
I get up early, I read a bit, listen to music and I go for a walk with the dog. After that, I work non-stop until dinner. That’s the nicest thing there is. But I also love travelling and going places. I wander around and then come back into the studio with a fresh view. Trouble getting started? Never! I am always in it and I always know where I want to begin.
Do you mind working from home?
A place where I can both live and work is important for me. I love working at night. Or early mornings when you feel like you’re the only one up and working. Here I can just go into my studio whenever I want to. My studio is my home is my studio.
Can you support yourself with your work?
The past year I was commissioned as “stadstekenaar” by Stadsarchief Amsterdam and I received a grant from Mondriaan Fonds which secured my income and helped me to concentrate entirely on my artistic development. But I don’t want to sit here in my own bubble, drawing all day. To stay in touch with the art world I still work part-time as a host at NEST. It’s a good reality check and it’s nice to have a bit of structure in life.
Who are your heroes?
Arno Kramer, Paul van der Eerden, Marcel van Eeden, Henri Jacobs and my docent Elly Strik are draughtsmen I admire.
Caren van Herwaarden: the way she works with watercolour and shows the vulnerability of the paper…
I am thinking about a master study at Jan van Eyck Academy or Hisk. I miss the conversations about the work, getting new insights and possible directions. I would also like to travel and eventually to live and work in Paris for a while. An artist residency at Atelier Holsboer would be great – for now, it feels too early, but maybe later.