Maartje Korstanje: irregular sculptures with soul

November 5, 2014

Maartje Korstanje (Goes 1982) makes irregular sculptures, mainly out of cardboard supplemented by diverse other materials. These are often large, room-filling objects that, with their organic forms, induce ideas of tree roots, insects or carcasses. Ambiguity and animation are important concepts in her work, in which she explores the twilight zone where beauty acquires a sinister edge and where doubt raises its ugly head: ‘Has it just died, or is it now coming to life?’ Korstanje studied at the St. Joost Academie in Breda and the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. The Groninger Museum has been following her for quite some time and this exhibition is her most extensive one up to the present. Most of the work shown here has been made especially for the occasion.

Much of Korstanje’s (earlier) work refers to animal shapes and other recognizable natural objects. That work expresses a deep fascination for animals and nature, something that is not surprising for someone who grew up on a farm in the Province of Zeeland. But in addition to these recognizable elements, her work also has a very outspoken formal side. It can be regarded as an ongoing investigation into form and material, in which classical sculptural principles such as composition, structure and texture are all equally important.

The result is not determined in advance but develops during the process of creation – kneading and pasting. Originally she mainly used papier-mâché, which she replaced with cardboard after a time. She gradually expanded her arsenal with silver leaf, synthetic materials, ceramics, bronze, textile and existing objects such as a cart. She introduces tension into her work by playing with contrasts: dry and (apparently) wet, brownish and unnaturally brightly coloured, round and spiky, hard and soft, figurative and abstract.
Korstanje’s work has become more stratified in the course of time. It ranges from literal quotes or references to living creatures and current events (such as bee extinction) to existential and universal themes such as life and death, the boundary between organisms and objects, culture and nature.

The exhibition runs from 22 November 2014 to 22 March 2015.


  • detail ongetiteld 2014, courtesy Upstream Gallery en Galerie mariondecannière