Image courtesy of Naqiba Bergefurt
Interview: Naqiba Bergefurt
Luca Curci talks with Naqiba Bergefurt during VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2019 at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Naqiba Bergefurt (1954) is autodidact. As a child she was strongly attracted to the visual arts as well as to music and theater. After High school she studied Pedagogy and Art Therapy at Utrecht University (The Netherlands). She did several courses and trainings in intuitive drawing and painting and had private singing lessons, which led to solo’s in concerts. For a long time she worked as a teacher and art-therapist with children and adults. Since 2010 painting is her main profession. Moreover, she works occasionaly as a singer. She started exhibiting her work in 1986. Till 2016 she had many solo-exhibitions in Amsterdam and since 2011 she took part in international group exhibitions, throughout Italy, the US (New York), Portugal, Canada and the Netherlands. Naqiba lives and works in Amsterdam since 1984.
Image courtesy of Naqiba Bergefurt
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Naqiba Bergefurt – Art for me is like bread. I need it to be alive. My soul needs to talk and express herself like my body needs to move and become alive every day. I think it is the same for others, but not everyone is aware of this. This is the reason that life becomes so boring, like a carrousel and at the end the feeling that life is meaningless becomes regular for so many people. Art does not have to beautiful. Of course there are so many levels and qualities in art. When beauty is reached, this means that the soul is really happy. I made many drawings that were not beautiful but they were a reflection of my inner situation and therefore full of meaning. And sometimes something that started as “’Ugly’’ turned out to become beautiful at the end. The most important is that one creates something that really comes from within, where one feels: this is me!
LC – What I am working on at the moment?
NB – More than in the past I am working to get my paintings into the outside world. So this exhibition in Venice is for me a real step in this process and for instance by writing now about my work and myself in this process helps me a lot to be someone who deserves to be seen and heard: recognition. Gives me power and courage, also in my daily life. Practical: I am preparing a solo exhibition in Amsterdam in June/July, “’Imaginary landscapes”’ and another one in Amsterdam as well in November.
LC – Do visitor’s suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
NB – Certainly.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
NB – Yes, my style is changing all the time, because I am in an ongoing process of change myself. But there were certain moments I took a big step in another direction. Over 30 years ago, my first solo exhibition in Amsterdam, I worked only in aquarelle, very fine layers in delicate colors. I was influenced by the antroposophical style of painting. Then during the later 80‘s and 90’s I worked in a completely different style: spontaneous work with coal and crayon, immediately following my impulses, while moving and even screaming sometimes: strong (deep hidden) emotions had to come out and this felt like a liberation! Most of this work has a dark atmosphere because of the strong use of black coal. Slowly the general feeling became lighter. Then around 2005, I started to work with oil on canvas. Starting with a lot of energy, a lot of colors, seldom black but still more or less dark, I liked to follow my impulses. Often I came to moment where I got stuck, not knowing how to go on. Always I found a way out, and then, slowing down I would refine my gestures. Nowadays I work more slowly, more focused but still intuitive, meditative, sometimes singing and the process is more an ongoing one, without the kind of breaking moments. I am very aware of being inspired, feeling guided.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if any?
NB – Over the years one thing stayed the same: I paint from what comes from inside. This can be something very personal but also a feeling that is connected to the collective unconscious. Nature always plays an important role. In two ways: The feelings are translated in the language of nature or nature itself speaks to me and becomes like a living, feeling being.
In this way one can find Mother Earth or the God Pan in my work, but also an abyss between mountains, that stands for the personal feeling of being lost.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition?
NB – As a human being it is very important deep inside to experience how dependent we are of nature but also how we are connected to nature and all living beings living on the planet. As soon as we realize that we are part of nature, we will overcome our feelings of superiority but also our overwhelming feelings of loneliness, stress and shortcoming. This awareness will lead us to a deep transformation of our being human. Furthermore: let’s live more from the heart and the senses than from the mind.
Image courtesy of Naqiba Bergefurt
LC – How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
NB – These thoughts of me that I have already since my student’s time are beautifully connected to the theme of the new festival, Anima Mundi, Soul of the World. This soul is the source of all life, the leading principle behind every experience on the visible, physical plane, the principle that connects all of us. By meeting each other in art that talks about this reality, even when we live far from each other at different places on this planet, we start forming a web that will connect not only us but also the people who take the effort to view our art.
LC – in which way the artwork, presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
NB – More specified to my artwork: When you look at these works you can see that they all represent this deep connection of the human being to the source of life or at least the longing to find back that connection. In the Tree of life one can see all the stages of life at the same time. Old and young parts in the tree, the cycles of death, decay and (re)birth. Light and dark. These stages we all experience in our lives but nowadays we try to deny them. This gives us a lot of discomfort. The same is true for our feeling of superiority: Instead of experiencing a state of strength and happiness this leads to a feeling of isolation. As soon as one connects with the inner sun, our essence, that is in nature represented by the sun that gives us life every day, this feeling will change to an experience of dignity. This process is given form and color in my painting: Dignity. At last there is this painting Devil’s mountain. It represents my own transformation process in a dark period of my life. In my loneliness , demons in my head every day, this walk in the forest brought me back to my ’Mother’, the unconditional love, nature can give us, if we are open to it. Also my way of painting is in line with the theme of the festival: Not the realistic representation of reality, where everything is separated from the surrounding by lines , but the inner truth of reality, were everything is connected, I want to show. So the forms and colors you see there develop only partly from my mind, moreover they stem from my feelings, body impulses and intuition.
LC – What do you think about Its Liquid Platform?
NB – It happens to me as something sympatric and the visions resemble my own views on life. I appreciated very much the encounter with Luca Curci and the spontaneous talk we had at the opening of the exhibition. He explained his view on my work and there I felt really understood. That is something rare in the Art world today, where I find often the opposite. The mail contact I have with Giulia also gives me a feeling of being seen and understood.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
NB – Yes I really did and still do. Of course I was happily surprised to read that I got the opportunity to prolong my presence at the ROOM for the period of Rituals and during the first part of the Biennale.