admin On marzo - 9 - 2013

Interview by Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi


Picture yourself on a boat on the Amstel, traversing a world populated by cheerful strange creatures, through a stylised scenery, defined by clear shapes, bright colours and strong black, lines. Welcome to the visionary realm depicted by the Dutch artist, Jacqueline Schäfer.

Her paintings, silkscreens and sculptures are currently at the Milan Affordable Art Fair, from the 7th of March through to the 10th, and are represented by the Art Shop Gallery, based in Amsterdam.


How did you start off as an artist?

My father was an artist, when he stopped working as an art director he started painting and making sculptures. I’m the youngest of five and he always taught us how to draw and paint, we were all inspired to be creative at a young age. It’s something I always liked to do and when I was 21 I thought I wanted to do it professionally, so I went to the Modern Art Academy in Amsterdam for five years. It was very frustrating for the first four years since I was used to doing still lives, and they pushed me to do abstract works to find my own creativity. I was forced to search for my personal way of expression and that’s where I found my own style, that represents me today.

What metaphors hide behind your shapes, colours and forms?

The birds are thoughts and wishes. The red bird symbolises passion. A blue bird stands for melancholia. The ‘Vreemde Vogels’, Strange Birds, paraphrase the peculiar and wacky individuals; I like people who are somehow strange birds. Personally I feel I fit in, in a way, although I may be strange in having placed my art as the central core of my life. But each person has a different road, each bird has a different flying direction. The important thing is to find your way, that is what brings happiness. I just have to sit behind my easel and I can work for twenty-four hours, I’m my own boss and I feel blessed to have the freedom to dispose of my time.

Are there any artists who have inspired your style?

Mirò, Picasso, my father collected Japanese prints and my brothers were very much into comics and my ancestors were originally from Indonesia – my parents were born there since it was a Dutch colony – the Balinese art is with the black outlines, so all of these things I absorbed during my childhood produced my style today. It also mirrors my personality: I like to control things even in my own life, everything is very defined, I’m very meticulous. Also my paintings have to be tidy and orderly.

Is this the first time your work is in Milan?

Yes it’s my first time here, but as for my Strange Birds Sculptures they were here in the previous Affordable Art Fair edition. My works have been also in the Affordable Art Fairs in Amsterdam, Brussels, Stockholm also in New York. My birds somehow explore new artistic territories for me.

When did you start moving from the canvas to sculpture?

In 2004, I felt the urge of something three-dimensional, that I could touch. I transposed my canvasses into clay, moulding, painting, using synthetic resin. The Art Shop Gallery was very supportive and suggested I made limited editions. We tried that and it was a great success. I started with birds and eventually through the years I made cactuses, cows and ‘The Dream’, a sculpture of the serene face of a sleeping woman.


When did you first get in touch with the Art Shop Gallery?

I finished the Academy in 1989 and ever since then I was working for assignments I had for books and magazines, but the paintings I always kept for myself. You become very vulnerable as an artist, but then I started exhibiting in little restaurants, when people asked me to. I was never the artist willing to show off her work, but people asked me and the reactions were great, people were enthusiastic, they bought my paintings, so I decided the time had come to try the gallery scene. In 2003 a friend of mine told me of a new gallery in Amsterdam, managed by two young men, so I went to the Art Shop Gallery with my best portfolio and they liked my work. They tried exhibiting two of my paintings in their branch gallery in Leiden and both were sold. Ever since then they buy my works and sell them to collectors and other galleries.

After the Affordable Art Fair in Milan, what are the next projects and destinations?

We’ll go to the Affordable Art Fair in Sweden, I have a few assignments for large paintings, and I’m going to make new sculptures. I’m going to be developing more human faces. I also work on commission when people demand something attaining to my style. I found my artistic mode of expression and life becomes so much easier when you stick to the portrayal of your world. I found myself and got emancipated from the days in which I felt I had to please my teachers at the Academy.

How do you relate to the public’s feedback?

I’m very sensitive about impressions. The media reports many bad things happening in the world and if I manage to give a moment of bliss to myself and to those who take delight in watching it, all the better. Out of all my work I try to project a clear and positive love for life in a complex modern world. I strongly believe that art therapy is always effective.



Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.