Marlies Hoevers searches for the innate beauty hidden within ordinary materials such as concrete and cardboard. She reveals their special, multi-faceted qualities by transforming the unusual materials into things of beauty and passion. The Netherlands born artist studied design at the Royal Academy of Art and developed a fascination with construction materials while working as an interior architect at a leading firm. Outwardly her concrete sculptures are visually stunning. Geometric shapes combined with subtle, earthy colors creates a gorgeous, minimal design. However, the true magic of the work extends beyond simply aesthetics, her ability to impart emotion and story through abstract composition is striking. She uses the inconsistencies and blemishes in raw materials to express stories of hope, love and fear. By blending delicate textiles such as thread and sawdust with cement and concrete she reveals an unexpected fragility from rugged materials that are typically used to support monolithic buildings and structures.
You find stunning beauty and emotion in unexpected materials, why do you think you are compelled to reveal hidden beauty living within the ordinary?
It is part of my life’s philosophy: I’ve realized I don’t need a lot of things to make my life beautiful and I try to treasure the simple moments in life as much as possible. In my art I try to capture the hidden beauty of ordinary materials, such as concrete, cement, cardboard and saw-dust: Materials that usually just have a practical application and I want to show that these everyday materials can become the subject of a captivating composition. I truly enjoy looking at small cracks or subtle discolorations of the concrete in my works, because these imperfections give away so much of the character of the material. In my art, I like to surprise people by unveiling the hidden beauty of ordinary materials, just like in life true beauty hides in ordinary things.
When gathering new materials and beginning new projects do you find that you actively seek inspiration or wait until it finds you? How do you remedy creative blocks?
My head is always spinning and it’s usually just a matter of time until new ideas find me. Inspired by these new ideas, I start experimenting with different compositions, materials and techniques and this process can actually take weeks or months. I never end up completely satisfying my original ideas, but the series of works that I generate during this process are almost like a chronological series of steps towards making that one piece I had in mind. It’s usually only after this whole process that I can look back on the works I created and start seeing them as a series of art pieces that are telling a story of ‘creation’ mixed with the emotions I had while making them.
Creative block happened to me a few times, during periods in my life where I could not devote enough time to my art. It can be quite hard to deal with the frustration that comes with creative blocks, and to find ways to overcome them. My remedy for creative blocks is easy; Lock myself up in my studio and take some serious time to look at the works I made before and the big variety of unused materials that my studio is filled with. This will motivate me to get started on creating new work and even if the first few works are not satisfying and I have to throw them out, this process is essential to get me out of my comfort zone and put me back on track. Once I start on a new series of works, it’s actually really hard to stop because I am never fully satisfied.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?
The urge to ‘create’ can build up to become a frustration when I am unable to spend enough time in my studio. I cannot fully unleash my creativity if my time is too fragmented and I can only be productive when I have enough time to get into the flow. On the other hand, I do need some time-pressure to force me to make decisions and come up with new ideas and some level of frustration is necessary to bring out my best work. My creative process requires this complex balance. Finally, sometimes it’s hard to deal with the financial uncertainty that goes hand in hand with being an artist. They say bankers talk about art and artists talk about money...
You began your career as an interior architect; did working commercially for a company influence how you approach your art career today?
My career as an interior architect did significantly influence my art: It taught me to have an open mind about how materials can be used in different ways depending on the application. I learned to think outside the box and to look for alternative uses of materials, which sometimes leads to finding unexpected new applications. I apply that same creativity in my art right now.
I didn’t really take along any of the commercial motives that were linked to my career as an interior architect. My decision to become a full-time artist was not the smartest move money-wise, but it gave me total artistic freedom to create the art in which I could express my creativity and emotions. As an artist, I try hard to not let money become a reason to make art, which I feel would severely compromise my artistic freedom. And that is exactly what I value so much!
What are some of your internal influences? Does your mood and daily life experiences affect your work at all?
It actually does a lot. My work is greatly influenced by whatever is occupying my mind at the time I’m creating ideas for new compositions. These can be experiences from my personal life or things that happen in my environment or in the news that touch me. Some aspects of these personal influences are represented in my work and in a subtle way, each piece carries an abstract image of my life.
One of the most intriguing aspects of your work is that it reflects story and emotion through abstract and unconventional materials. Viewers can relate to your work on an emotional level. Do you ever consider what kind of affect your art will have on others? Have you ever been surprised by a response to your art?
I think the best compliment an artist can get is when a person becomes emotional while viewing the art. My art is about myself and is a reflection of my own stories, experiences and emotions, but it makes me happy to learn it affects other people too. Sometimes my art has affected people in a very personal way. I once had a couple visit my studio who were in the middle of a divorce. They ended up buying pieces for each other and told me, “You have no idea what this means to us, this is so special.” I found another older man staring at one piece for several minutes and the expression of his face really touched me. Those moments are really special and they give me confirmation that my art has the capacity to affect people other than myself, which obviously is very motivating to keep doing what I’m doing.