OFFICIAL OPENING OF JOHN MUTSAERS EASTER STUDIO EXHIBITION - 2pm EASTER SATURDAY, 9 CHURCHILL CRES, INVERLOCH
It’s not often that one meets an artistic duo truly representative of ‘the art of living’ however that’s exactly what we found upon meeting John and Mary Mutsaers recently. We jumped at the opportunity when invited for morning tea to the couple’s home studio, where we discussed the forth-coming 'Open Studio Exhibition of John Mutsaers', set to take place this coming Easter weekend, on Saturday, March 25th, 26th & 27th with the official opening on Easter Saturday at 2pm.
The first thing you notice about this home studio is the couple’s energy, present in every piece of furniture, artifact, and work of art. The creative duo, which consists of John as artist, and Mary his manager, have cultivated a space which bursts with stories held in the various artworks adorning their walls. John is a man with a warm heart and a story to tell. Here is a snapshot of how the conversation unfolded however honestly, this is an open studio you simply must see for yourself.
Inv: John, when did you realize you had a passion for art?
JM: Since I was a little boy I had a passion for art, which was encouraged by my mother, and other family members who were professional artists in Holland. One particular incident, which made a big impression on me regarding my drawing ability, was when my kindergarten teacher pinned up one of my drawings on the classroom wall. This was a very unusual thing for a teacher to do at the time.
I can honestly say I haven’t stopped painting and drawing since.
"Since I was a little boy I had a passion for art, which was encouraged by my mother, and other family members who were professional artists in Holland." JM
Inv: What brought you from The Netherlands to Australia?
JM: I came to Australia as a migrant from Holland when I was fourteen. Post war Holland was economically depressed and my parents saw Australia as a place of opportunity for themselves and their six children. Because of the language barrier and cultural differences my parents found settling difficult. I, on the other hand as a fourteen-year-old boy, coming to Australia by boat I saw it all as a huge adventure; one that continues for me every single day one way or another.
"Mary is my manager and it really is a team effort. She is my greatest supporter and also my greatest critic" JM
Inv: What’s your background?
JM: I worked as a land surveyor and part time artist until 1986 when I took the plunge and became a full time artist. Since that time my wife Mary has managed the business side of my career.
This year marks my 30th anniversary as a professional artist. Since 1986 I have held 37 solo exhibitions including a successful London exhibition in 2006 and a group show in Shanghai with the Australian Trade Commission in 2008.
My first international success was a sculpture based on C J Dennis’ poem, “The Sentimental Bloke,” which, was sold to a gallery in New York in 1994.
Perhaps my biggest coup regarding my sculptural work was getting six of my sculptures displayed around Federation Square as part of the United Nations, Year of the Potato (2008), which was my response to the Freedom from Hunger campaign.
In regard to my work on canvas; last year I was thrilled to be judged as a semi-finalist in the prestigious Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.
Inv: How do you work? What’s integral to the work of an artist?
JM: I have a huge respect for the artistic process and after 30 years as a professional artist I have never lost my passion for painting, sculpting and writing, nor for an appreciation of the great work done by so many artisans in our community and abroad.
I work in my studio every day and draw inspiration from my surroundings and such themes as freedom, justice and the search for meaning. The current series I am working on is called, The Infinite Birdcage, which explores the human need for freedom.
'Inv: How has your practice (mediums) changed over time?
JM: My preferred medium is oil on canvas and I continually strive to master the use of tone and light in my work. Early in my career, like most young artists, I experimented with a variety of materials but finally decided to exclusively paint in oil on canvas. The professional quality artists' oils I have used for many years contain quality pigments and oils, which allow me to explore the vast nuances of tonal painting.
Inv. How has living in Inverloch influenced your art?
Life in Inverloch began when my studio in the Latrobe Valley burned down in 2009. I lost over 100 paintings in the fire and this tragedy became the impetus for Mary and I to move to Inverloch and build a straw bale house and studio. As you can imagine it took quite a few years to build it on my own. We finally moved permanently to Inverloch in 2012 and have loved every minute. The artistic community in Inverloch and surrounding townships is vibrant and our involvement with the ArtSpace Community Gallery in Wonthaggi very rewarding.
I am continually inspired by the natural surroundings of this exceptional part of Victoria and our straw bale house and studio is a joy to live in and work.
Inv: What art do you most identify with?
JM: I am best known as a tonal impressionist painter therefore I identify strongly with that modality. However, I must say that I love all kinds of art both traditional and modern and I am constantly encouraged by the work of young up-and-coming artists around the world.
My influences are painters such as Archie Colquhoun, John Singer Sargent, Vincent van Gogh, Max Meldrum, Lucien Freud and Kees Bol; a Dutch painter of note who was an early inspiration for me when I visited his studio in Eindhoven as a young boy.
I am grateful for the years I spent working in the studio of artist John Balmain. His mastery of composition and the principles of tonal painting are evident in my work.
My work has been included in public, corporate, and private collections around the world, including The Nederlands, England, Ireland, USA, China, Canada and Australia.
The late HRH Princess Margaret, UK,
Brigadier General Charles Duke, USA (Astronaut - Apollo 16)
Lisa Gerrard, Australia (Composer)
La Trobe Regional Gallery Morwell, Vic,
Bega Regional Gallery, Bega NSW, p
Shanghai Electric Power Company, China
Returned and Services League, Australia
Australian Paper Mills
Inv: John can you tell us about Van Goethem’s Little Dancer?
After seeing Degas’ sculpture in the Australian National Gallery in Canberra some years ago it revived my interested in him and in particular the history of the model. Artist’s models are rarely acknowledged and in the case of Marie van Goethem I feel a strong sense of injustice on her behalf.
Marie van Goethem from all accounts was a young girl with dreams like any other girl in her time but the reality of her life was far from pleasant. Her relationship with Degas has long been debated without a conclusive answer but one thing is definite, Marie’s name is almost completely unknown by the millions of people who have seen and admired this sculpture know as "Degas' little bronze dancer - age fourteen."
Marie died in poverty at the age of 35 and is buried in an unmarked grave. By calling my painting "van Goethem's little dancer" I hope to restore some notoriety, which rightfully belongs to Marie.