Vera de Jong



Relocation, and its resulting dislocation, is an experience so common today that it has become a dominant theme of our times.  Whether by choice or necessity,  unprecedented numbers of people live where they do not come from.  A feeling of homelessness, impermanence and difference can be leavened by the opportunity to reinvent oneself in the new place. The result is not belonging but hybridity, or perhaps a kind of stable ambiguity.  Two people can come from entirely different backgrounds but if they share the experience of a similar kind of dis/re location, they have in common something that can transcend differences.  We can recognize experience in each other.  

This preoccupation is something I move outward from in my work, and which I keep returning to.

The danger and anxiety of rapid and catastrophic climate destabilization is another.

A third is the question of where and how mind emerges from matter – the nature of mind and how it evolves meaning.    The process by which I work is in itself an attempt to observe this phenomenon, so to say,  from inside.   It allows me to study the nature of the engagement of my mind with material and the emergence of meaning from that engagement.   My goal in this is to experience ‘mattering’ (as Karen Barad has coined it), and for the resulting painting to remain as  record and residue, able to contain and reveal the embedded complexity of references.


On medium and process:

I paint in acrylics, beginning with a randomly applied textural layer and moving from abstract towards figuration.   The painting emerges out of this process of material engagement whereby each choice of action leads only to a new set of choices within the parameters of an evolved vocabulary.  Each selection, each change of what is, refreshes what can be.   The painting’s progression leaves its complicated residue, till,  in the end, it is an accumulation that finds its way through to clarity of form and meaning.   I think of this as somewhere between ‘Darwinian’ and ‘ententional’ (as Terrance Deacon would have it), not as metaphor but as a way of reflecting on, and being moved to action by, essential processes:  from moment to each subsequent moment, there is only  the choosing of what to react to from what the  environment presents.   Everything affects and is affected by everything else  – everything is ‘intra-action’.  


On multiple panels:

As a painting proceeds from beginning to completion there is a narrowing down from ‘anything can happen’ to ‘this is what it is becoming’; open-endedness proceeds to definition.  This trimming down of what might happen is both a relief (because to have too many choices is oppressive and exhausting) and a limitation, as possibilities are forfeited.   To introduce multiple panels as a variable of the painting’s development and final form means that until much closer to the completion of the painting, the possibilities remain open and fluid.  From one moment to the next an impulse can result in a new configuration: the entire painting changes, a new direction is initiated, a large new space is made from within which to proceed.  Inevitability is repeatedly thwarted, the certainty that grows from the narrowing down of options is over ridden.  This retaining of the fluidity of possibilities until close to the painting’s completion is deeply unsettling but exhilarating.

Each panel, in the end, exerts its necessary weight and pull on the whole, existing in a specific relationship and tension with each other panel.  The final shape and configuration feels, in retrospect, as if it could not be otherwise.

Vera de Jong is a Canadian painter who has made India her home for the last twenty-one years, first in Hyderabad, now in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu.   In August/September 2015  Dyu Art Cafe, Bangalore, hosted a  solo show of her work.   Artworld Chennai held solo exhibitions of her paintings in January, 2015 and in 2013.  Daira Gallery, Hyderabad, hosted her first solo show in India in 2006. She has participated in yearly group shows in Kodaikanal as well as in the  4th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Hyderabad, 2006 and in A Walk of Art at Daira Art Gallery, 2003.
2017:   At: Dakshina Chitra, Chennai – July 1st to 25th
            At:  Aurodhan Gallery, Pondicherry – July 28th to August 9th