Expat Artist in the Netherlands: Erik Robert Hagen
American artist in the Netherlands Robert Hagen is busy exploring the perceptions of beauty both in Europe and the US.
Name: Erik Robert Hagen
City of residence: Den Haag
Reason for moving to the Netherlands: My spouse and I have always wanted to live in Europe.
Can you describe what you wish to communicate through your art work?
My recent artwork is portraits and photography with a focus on uplifting social commentary. There is a role for fine art in popular culture that isn’t connecting with real people and I think we can change that.
Which medium do you work in?
Oil paint, charcoal and photography
How has living abroad influenced your work as an artist?
The light in Holland captivated me. I spent my first year painting outdoors. Moving to a place where I was unknown, and had no friends, I decided to undertake an art project that involved me in the broader community. I’ve found a socially relevant aspect of my recent work and that is directly connected to living abroad. In the states I worked with themes of natural beauty and landscape. Here, I have become more involved with exploring the beauty found in people.
Which famous local artists inspire you?
Rembrandt. There is immediacy in his paintings and sensitivity to the character of the people he portrays.
Which up and coming local artists do you find worth mentioning?
Mariska de Kok . She has committed her life to art, does art for the right reasons and makes beautiful portraits.
How easy or difficult is it to mix with the local artistic community?
I’ve been embraced by the outdoor painters. I attended the Noordwijk Painting Festival last year and made some great connections there. In Holland there are a lot of art academies and lot of great artists competing for attention.
Can you offer some advice to people wishing to break into the local art scene?
Get involved. Join an art club, find other artists, people that can support you and with whom you can have a sense of camaraderie. Be prepared to do your homework – lots of information and opportunity is available and is in Dutch, so learn the language. Also, be prepared to receive a lot of “no” but just keep trying. It’s going to be a long, hard struggle so make sure you’re doing the art because you love doing it or you won’t succeed.
What kind of financial support is available for artists working in the Netherlands?
It’s a path I have not pursued here for my artwork.
How would you describe the art scene in the Netherlands?
Very competitive and vibrant. I’ve seen some really beautiful work here. If you are an art collector, you’ve come to the right country. It’s a great place to build a collection.
Would you like to add anything?
I want to go a little more into detail about my latest work, The Exploring Beauty Project. It is a series of images paired with inspirational words from volunteer models. The project aims to redefine the perceptions of beauty beyond age and size both in Europe and United States.
We are surrounded by images of thin, young fashion models, airbrushed and altered after the shoot. These images create false expectations of what real women look like. We begin to believe that beauty is thin, beauty is young, and if women are not both of those things then they are not beautiful. These beliefs can be harmful, not only because they can contribute to eating disorders, but also because they can hinder self- fulfilment and even get in the way of our relationships. You can read see the images and read the interviews at www.exploringbeauty.org.
Joining your voice to Expat Artists in the Netherlands
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