By Malika Verlaguet

Hester Van Wijngaarden introduces herself neither as a painter nor as an artist but mainly as a women who paints, two dimensions that fore fill her life.

After studying “History of Art” in Leiden (Holland) for two years, Hester is admitted at the Beaux-Arts in Utrecht in 1982.

Soon after, life leads her to settle in France, in the Gers. And it is in this new context that she starts her painting career. At that time her painting is more figurative, and by the age of 25, during a exhibition at Auch, she sells her first paintings.

Hester Van Wijngaarden paints portraits, landscapes and few animals. It’s in the Gers that she is impressed by bull fighting. The Bull imposes itself to her as a main subject.
The animal enables her to paint and express her vital energy that up until now had been kept inside her.

While fore filling this instinctive approach, her paintings grow. Literally, the format of her paintings become bigger and bigger. Her work matures: more technical, the image comes out of the haze, her gesture is more confident and lines more précis. The creature is there, massive and present.

What also characterises her painting is her very sober colour pallet. She plays with the black, the white, the grey… and a few earth colours, the ochre… shades. Despite the strength of her subjects, her intuitive touch remains fine and mastered.

Now, Hester puts forward themes that come naturally to her. The Bull is still there and has been joined by the Elephant and the Horse.

She understands later that these animals correspond to archetypes, but she lives her painting without intellectualising it. For her, they allow her to enter a primitive strength. Ancient figures that are in our subconscious, and which incarnate strength, power, balance and sensuality. And in the eye of the painter, as in the eye of the spectator, the lines and relief attract light in a remarkable way.

The Bull… strength of fire in movement, to whom respond the powerful fluidity of the horse and for the elephant, its weight, balance and serenity, links between earth and water.

Far from being repetitive, the recurrent themes allow Hester to work more and more in depth.


Hester Van Wijngaarden is a living fabric; she turns into music primitive strength and gives life to initial elements. Through her, Hester looks to be as close as possible to her own nature and therefore mother Nature. It is an ongoing conscious research which few of us remain insensitive to.

The relation with music is essential for Hester – rhythms, playing and silences, coming and going in front of the canvas, her observation, her pausing, and her instinctive pursuit.
Contemplation, silence and emptiness… it’s with grand respect and delicatessens that Hester’s paint brush strokes the canvas for the first time.
Painting is not a therapy for Hester. She refuses that because “ painting is not trivia, it’s a way to put energy in movement”.

The frame is also a key element in her strength of painting. It is not simply animal portraits but also fragments of portraits. Huge fragments. Which slice reality.

The start point of her painting is the composition, the placement that reveals the strongest expression. Very often the first strokes of her paintbrush are for the animal’s eyes, the animal’s look. All the energy doesn’t come at the beginning … exploring prudently the emptiness, respecting the support “if you through everything at once, you haven’t meditated on the empty canvas enough.”

Nevertheless, one of the most important aspects is the Movement. The painting seems to try and find a balance between shade and light - that state is never still… the movement leads to a story, a story that comes to deceive reality…

“Painting refines our look on the world which transpires more easily, it sharpens our sensibility. Looking at a painting is like looking inside the world, it’s a way to slow down, to lengthen time, time becomes elastic, it’s a way of moving on a different level. Instead of running though life, we are able to centre on it. We can play. To paint is a meditative journey”

A lesson of life? No, simply mature spontaneity that makes us understand how such refined touches of paint are able to become so strong.

Strong women - Strong work, that lives within a subtle shade.

Copyright (C) Hester van Wijngaarden - All rights reserved