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Marjolein Rothman, artist portrait by Judith van ljken

Marjolein Rothman is a Dutch painter, whose powerfully suggestive works are an inquiry into the nature of perception. Often fashioned in series, her portraits, and paintings of architectural monuments and buildings, are geometrically shaped, fragmentary, and rendered with minimal depth in a spare, sober palette. Devoid of the compositional detail that conventionally directs the viewer’s interpretation, Rothman’s portraits and scenes of people capture mood and feeling through posture or gesture. Evidence of her early training as a photographer, her images seem to loom out of and disappear into their ground, frozen in a state of becoming like photographs forming in a dark room. 

Her most recent series of works, titled Orange and Teal (2023), references a specific colour contrast commonly encounteredin filmmaking and photography, which combines the warmth of orange with the cool, soothing tones of teal or deep blue. Rothman employs these two tones to explore the notion of transformation. By utilizing low contrast and dividing her compositions into parallel planes, she aims to obscure the boundaries between the subjects and their surroundings. This shift in perception occurs as the primary form and 'rest form' alternately come to the fore. The artist's chosen motifs of flowers and self-portraits constitute art historical nods to the vanitas and memento mori still-life genres in painting with their reference to the fleetingness of life. The flowers, symbolizing ephemeral beauty parallel the enigmatic nature of the self-portraits. Her distinct painterly technique transmutes the flowers, bodies, and faces into ghostly appearances that seem to appear and disappear at the same time.

Marjolein Rothman (b. 1974) studied at the AKI in Enschede, and was artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, between 2003-2004. Rothman was awarded the Dutch Royal Prize for Painting in 2004. Her works have been exhibited at De Kunsthal Rotterdam, De Vleeshal Middelburg, De Nederlandsche Bank, Amsterdam. In 2023, Rothman had her first museum show at Villa Mondriaan in Winterswijk, accompanied by a publication (Interval, 2023). Since 2010, she is a Lecturer in Fine Art at HKU, Utrecht, and Painting at AKI Art EZ Enschede.