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Coming from a diverse background in costume and set design, model-making, as well as classical painting, I found the idea of Loominance - ‘weaving’ and ‘lucidity’ at once - very helpful in finding ways to fuse traditions that are meaningful to me. Especially those where the art of making and the making of art are not opposed. The classical traditions of Japan, for instance, appeal to me for that very reason. They truly perfected the union of idea and matter by driving both to their extremes in one single piece. That requires mastery.

Hence my fascination for detail, articulation, and complex processes that help me develop a work. Every detail counts. Even though the works may at first come across as monumental gestures, the life and the intimacy of that overall impact is in the careful arrangement of what meets the eye.


That’s the thing: to explore the field of tension that exists where true craftsmanship meets conceptual intensity. The way I go about it, is to develop a language for every new series in great detail. From this ‘grammar’ or ‘visual phonetics’ arises a language with which to approach a certain theme. This kind of preparation guarantees a connectedness between the different layers of the piece, which you can indeed ‘read’ or appreciate on different levels. Very much like the patterns that make up the world - from quantum particles to energy or matter on the level of the lives we live.


But in the end the scale of perception is up to the viewer. As are meaning or beauty.


Sylvia van Opstall, 2021


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For Sylvia van Opstall's portrait of former Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen, please visit the Amsterdam Museum collection.