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a visit to saroja's studio

Punt i Informaciu Pollença



Interview with Saroja


A few days ago, I received a catalogue from the Dutch artist who resides in Pollensa, SAROJA VAN DER STEGEN. This catalogue was for her new show at the Bennasar Gallery in Madrid, and had a very good presentation of the author and her work, written by our friend Miguel Bota Totxo. I called her to wish her luck and every success.

I met SAROJA a few years ago, when she had just arrived in Pollensa. She had a studio at "Ca'n Diable" and her painting was completely abstract, colourful and personal. That was in 1992, and since then she has changed studios many times. The greatest change that has taken place however, I believe is in the maturity and the expressiveness of her work.

She invited me to see her workshop, an invitation I gladly accepted. I was keen to see her latest production, as I presumed it had evolved significantly, by the look of the pictures in the catalogue. I was indeed pleasantly surprised to discover that her paintings had been clearly influenced by the light and the landscapes of Mallorca.

On entering, there is already a mysterious feeling about her artistic personality. There were pictures from different phases of her artistic career, stacked in orderly rows, in all the corners of her home-studio. I looked at some of the old ones which I recognised from past shows. We made comments about the paintings that decorate the bedrooms on the first floor and made our way to the second floor where she has an ample and sunny studio and terrace. On her easel and scattered on the floor, were several canvases in the process of elaboration.

"As you can see, my paintings become more and more integrated to the world in which I live. The light, the colours, the landscape and the Mediterranean are deeply influencing my work. Although it continues to follow a certain abstract line, my work is taking on more figurative connotations. My aim is to capture the beauty that surrounds me" she said.

After contemplating her work and exchanging ideas for a long while, we moved onto the courtyard which has been converted into a garden come- exhibition of recycled sculptures made by her partner DEVA, who is also Dutch. "We met in India " said SAROJA. The three of us chatted about the beginning of her artistic career while enjoying a soft drink and the warm May sunset. I learned that her interest in art had developed very young, while still in primary school. Having taken part in a children's drawing competition on television, and seeing her colourful drawings on the screen made a deep impression on her. Thanks to the prize she received, she was encouraged to study different artistic channels such as painting, music and drama, always in specialised schools.

After finishing her studies, "I wanted to become independent of my family and therefore travelled to France, America and India. The latter is where I had my first solo exhibition, met Deva and where my son was born. I have now been living in Pollensa for six years, painting and playing music" she explained.

After discussing her artistic path, we talked about her many shows in India, France, Spain and Holland. Then she commented on her most immediate plans, which are, apart from continuing her work, two shows in Mallorca, in Deià and Inca. She is also thinking of another exhibition in Germany, where she has some good contacts.

There were comments made about art in Mallorca, and specifically in Pollensa. As always, we talked of the present crisis in the world of art. "Here, there are many artists that I like. I have been to a lot of exhibitions recently and have noticed some great painters, especially those who follow an abstract line and work with colour. On the other hand, I also like the artistic quality of the impressionists from the "Escuela Pollensina". I don't actually believe there is a crisis. At least my artist friends and myself sell our work very well", she tells me.

Without noticing it, the hours have flown by. We finish off our drinks and say goodbye, and leave with the sensation of having spent an agreeable and interesting afternoon of discussion and friendship. Thank you SAROJA, and I wish you many years of working for the good of art.