Vera de Jong

Unexpected Outcomes 

Vera de Jong:  Artist’s Statement and Bio

Three main preoccupations fuel and inspire my paintings.  The first is a meditation on the experience of dis/relocation, what it is to live far from where one was born and raised, and the necessary adaptation to the place where one makes ones new life.  Despite differences of race and culture I feel we can recognize experience in each other.  Secondly, I think a lot about our fragility and vulnerability as individuals and – on our current trajectory – as a species. Thirdly, and underpinning the first two, is the question of where mind emerges from matter, and how the mind evolves meaning.   All my work, in the end, is a meditation on this last, an observation from inside.   The process that I employ allows me to study the nature of the engagement of mind and material and the emergence of meaning from that engagement.

On medium and process:

I paint in acrylics, beginning with a randomly applied textural layer and moving from abstraction towards figuration.   The painting emerges out of a 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, finally, it is an accumulation that finds its way through to clarity of form and meaning.   I think of this as ‘Darwinian’, not as metaphor but as a way of reflecting on, and inhabiting,  an essential process:  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.  In an instant constraints are shed. 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 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 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. Vajira Gallery is hosting her sixth solo show.  Previous shows were at: Shigeatsu, Kodaikanal, earlier this year;   Dyu Art Cafe, Bangalore and Artworld Chennai in 2015, Artworld Chennai in 2013 and Daira Gallery, Hyderabad, 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 24th
            At:  Aurodhan Gallery, Pondicherry – July 28th to August 9th