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27 augustus 2020 | Nieuws

The Piket Art Prizes in times of corona (38): Afra Eisma

Theatre makers, actors, visual artists, and dancers are much affected by government measures to keep the corona virus under control. What is the impact of these measures on the young (former) nominees and winners of the Piket Art Prizes? Part 38: Afra Eisma.

“I work with ceramics and fabrics, and with lots of colours,” Afra says. She describes her own work as ‘an explosion of colour and energy’. She also regularly turns to painting, but not in a traditional manner. “I use painting to decorate ceramics and wall hangings.” She doesn’t like to limit herself to one specific form of expression.

Afra, who was born in The Hague, didn’t see the Piket Art Prizes nomination coming at all. “It’s so cool! And it’s great that all nominees receive 2,000 Euros.” She knows her fellow nominees Ciro Duclos and Lorena van Bunningen. “I’m not competitive and wouldn’t begrudge anyone the prize, but I do know how I would spend the money if I won. I would buy a new oven to fire porcelain, and lots of oil paint in every colour,” Afra says. She describes herself as an “obsessive and prolific artist.” She has also had an activist attitude since childhood. “My art isn’t political, but I do find it important to make this world a better place.” Afra is engaged in equal rights and climate issues, and supports Kick Out Zwarte Piet and Black Lives Matter. “I am concerned about big social issues.”

Impact of the measures

A residency in the south of Japan was postponed because of the corona measures. “It’s now planned for next year,” Afra says. She was actually in Japan for two exhibitions when the pandemic erupted and couldn’t leave the country. “In the end I only managed to travel back in April.” The distance was especially painful when her grandmother fell ill and succumbed to the virus. “Fortunately, I was back in time for the funeral. It was a very beautiful farewell.” Afra doesn’t mind a bit more peace and quiet, and time for reflection on these turbulent times. “I have had so many shows over the past two years – it’s nice to take a few steps back.”

So what now?

Afra just had a residency in Amsterdam. Her work was used as well as shown at restaurant Diptych. “It was great to spend the summer there,” she says. Diptych is a special place, experimenting with food and nitrogen. “My ceramics were used to serve the dishes and the walls were decorated with hangings I made.” On 30 July everyone was welcome to come and have a look. “The combination of so many flavours almost gave a sense of over-stimulation, which is also characteristic of my work. There was a lot to see and viewers were given total freedom to explore it all.”

Plans for the future

Because she had expected to be in Japan, Afra has no exhibitions planned for the rest of the year. “I would like to use the coming months to reflect and make new work.” Art centre De Vleeshal in Middelburg has invited her to create a response to the work of video artist Pipilotti Rift. “It’s supposed to be no larger than an A4 sheet,” she explains. “I think I’m going to make a water colour drawing.” In addition, Ellen de Bruijne’s gallery on the Singel in Amsterdam will be showing Afra’s work this summer. “It’s a beautiful gallery on a canal,” Afra says. In the future Afra would like to learn more about traditional techniques. “I would like to go to South-America to study textile techniques. And a museum exhibition would also be something to look forward to.”

Photo: Hessel Waalewijn