Words by Evan La Ruffa
Whether stamps, currency, sheet music, or playing cards, Handiedan layers texture upon texture, creating a uniquely symbiotic mix of dilapidation. There’s a sense of history, or a weathered feel to her collages, informed by her knowledge of photographic design and an attraction to the tattered edges of remnants. She’s made her name in Europe, and has shown stateside at Phone Booth Gallery in Long Beach, Black Book Gallery in Denver, and most recently at Roq la Rue Gallery in Seattle. Her aesthetic melds iconic symbols and serves as a remix of simpler quantities whose combination render much more than it’s single parts ever could. With scissors and occasional “digital wizardry” Handiedan aka Hanneke Treffers, guides the viewer into a Baroque atmosphere, accented with classicism and cleavage, dollar signs and stirrups. The sexualized side of it is portraiture reconfigured, as glamorized style and feminism intersect differently for every viewer. Rugged and refined, classic and modern, Handiedan’s collages constitute a brand new category of cohesive. They are style, epitomized.
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IPMM: Thanks for doing the interview! First off, we’re interested in the modern art scene in Amsterdam. What are the pros and cons of the art climate there?
Handiedan: My main orientation is abroad. I dont want to make a solid statement about the art scene here in The Netherlands… The evolotion of art and the constant shifting of what’s hot and what’s not fluctuates.
I would say, come over and experience it for yourself.
IPMM: Are you originally from Amsterdam?
Han: I’m originally from a small town in the southern part of The Netherlands. About an hour drive by car from Amsterdam.
IPMM: We’re more and more amazed when we find people like yourself who simply live creatively in tons of ways. Your site features your illustrations, photography, and collages, which we were more familiar with… does one take precedence for you?
Han: The pin-up collages are most important to me personally. They contain all my visual fascination and techniques. Drawing and doodling clears my mind and photography is my passion when I travel. These days for me, photography is a visual diary of the things I experience and the places I explore. I absolutely enjoy capturing the little found treasures that present themselves.
IPMM: Awesome! Yea, as we mentioned, we first saw your collages which incorporate a wild range of materials. How’d you come to use everything from paint to rusty metal?
Han: I have a great fascination for graphic elements and ornaments that tell a story. The history behind the ornamentation and materials, from old currency, documents, sheet music and old books have an originality combined with history. The elements and ornaments I use are woven in cultures, have a tale of their own, and are a part of history that can go back centuries. They both have a history and a tale that can be revealed or analysed in their own way. The two live together, both then and now. The diversity of materials provides a creative oasis for my to dwell in.
IPMM: I like that. There’s a strange sexuality to the work too, although, I have to say, the textures imparted (even on the prints) are what visually attracted our eye initially. But after looking closely, the pinups seem even more classic when clouded by things like sheet music and wood. How do the pin – up girls or gender, play a role in the work for you?
A: I believe that Vintage pin – ups these days have a more aesthetic appeal. My collage art radiates classic sexiness. The use of vintage materials, the suggestiveness, and the way I portray the female form, strengthens the historic story of femininity. The tenderness they portray and the strength they radiate combined with collage materials makes the image complete, and is very fulfilling to me. A constant search of what I want to say with a image, with just the right balance is essential.
IPMM: There’s a historical, aged vibe to your work that is also uniquely modern. It feels as though you’re a fan of wide range of cultural hallmarks. The synergy that exists in Europe between historical art, architecture, food, and modern innovation, is something you don’t feel here in The States. Have you ever thought about that dynamic in relationship to your work?
A: Europe has a very old history and a very wide range of different cultural aspects, aged and imbedded in our daily life through time. Very interesting where we’re coming from. What is our past and how do you find that in daily materials? I do this by traveling through time in my work. I have a fascination for that which existed, that which is now and things that will be. To combine all my fascinations with a wink to the past, present and future, is just absolutely fulfilling. I get to re- inact history and portray all this in the present through my collages. For me it tells something about the small cultural facets of human kind.
IPMM: What medium did you start with? Illustration, collage, or
A: I started drawing basically before I could even walk. It’s been a part of me since I was little, a fascination that grew. It became such a part of my life that I got accepted to art school. After graduation I started working as a photographer, but I was mainly working as an illustrator and graphic designer with a lot of imaging and editing elements.
IPMM: That makes sense, there’s definitely a great sense of composition in the work. What exhibitions do you have planned for 2013?
A: I am very excited about a upcoming large museum group show called “HEY! Modern art and Pop Culture II” at Musée Les Halle Saint Pierre in Paris, January 25th – 23rd of August 2013. It will be the first time showing my collage art in Paris.
I’m also preparing my solo show at Thinkspace Gallery which opens 6th of April 2013. Also working on some interesting projects which will prevale later this year. A small hint about new influences in some of my collage art in 2013….Think
Astronomy and Spirituality!
Q: Haha, awesome. What are you usually up to when you’re not making art?
A: I must say its sometimes a full-time job creating and working on my collage art pieces. When I do get some spare time, I get consumed by everything else that life revolves around. I have a cat, she requires a lot of attention. I like hanging out with family and friends. I do fun stuff out and about. Traveling and biking ( just bought a fixed gear bike). I love it to go to cultural and dance festivals. Amsterdam is a nice place to live.
Q: If you could visit one place on earth, where would you go, and
A: Ow, so many things on my list I’d love to see once. If I have to pick one, I’d say Japan. I always have had a strange kind of fascination for that culture and country.
Q: Do you ever think about what you’d be doing if you weren’t making art for a living?
A: I’d like to be an astronomer. The galaxy and atoms, science is my second passion.
Q: Name one artist, historical or modern, that IPMM readers should check out.
A: M.C. Escher.
Thinkspace Gallery – 6 – 27 April 2013