Artist’s Story | In the studio with Job Klijn

On a crisp evening in the Manawatū, Job Klijn’s studio is a small sanctuary of warmth and creativity. Klijn has just finished his first solo exhibition, Emigrate, at The White Room Co. in Palmerston North.

Working almost exclusively with recycled materials, Klijn creates surreal landscapes that capture emotive snapshots of human experience. Klijns’ recent work explored the experience of living as an immigrant in a new environment. The narratives he paints are not only his own, as a Dutch New Zealander, but also those of his family and friends from around the world. In his paintings Klijn explores the nostalgia of being far from home, tempered with the knowledge that this home is not only physically removed from current reality, but also exists in a different time:

The problem is when you go back, it is neither here nor there… I don’t recognise things any more. Friends have moved on, family have moved on. So while you are still stuck in your memory of say 30 years ago, and you want to talk about it and you want to go to these places and they are all like, “What the hell are you on about?” They are not interested in that, because they have probably done it many times, it is passé, it is done.

As part of the process of immigration, one naturally begins to adapt and acclimatise to a new society. Discussing an artwork entitled The Fading, Klijn speaks about how one’s culturally learned mannerisms and behaviours begin to fade over time, becoming replaced by new ones:

Your habits fade, your personality changes, not in a bad way … In a way that is the fascination of going somewhere else. You know, I love that idea that it is the same scenario but a completely different approach is required because of the culture and the way of thinking and I love that, I respect that and I think that’s fantastic.

The resulting feeling of not feeling fully Dutch any more, and yet not fully Kiwi is explored in Klijn’s work I am an Anecdote – a reflective piece that is, perhaps appropriately, rendered in shades of sepia and brown evoking a sense of history.

When asked whether he fully anticipates what each piece will look like at completion, Klijn brings out a sketchbook explaining that he has many of them, filled with sketches and that with every piece he begins with an idea but most, if not all, are altered in the process of working as he sees new possibilities and tests ideas.

Figure studies in Job's studio

Figure studies in Job’s studio

Like many artists he maintains a full-time job in order to avoid placing financial pressure on his creative practice. Klijn’s paintings take many months to complete. He works on multiple pieces at the same time, adding elements, waiting for them to dry, and building up the layers and textures over time. One idea that Klijn is keen to explore further is artwork created to hang outdoors, with the natural degradation of materials factored in as part of the design.

To see more of Klijn’s work please visit: http://www.jobklijn.com

Serena Siegenthaler-Brown