Hello Cindy Batsleer, where are you from originally and what did you do there?
I was born and raised in Ghent, Belgium. Ghent is known for its Medieval city centre and universities. It´s a vibrant cultural town with a lot of young people.
I studied painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (known as KASK). Afterwards I taught at the Municipal School of Arts for 9 years. I also painted in my studio on a daily basis and created decorative interiors for themed parties for a Night Club in Brussels.
What brought you to Lanzarote?
I fell head over heels in love and following my heart, arrived in Lanzarote! When I became pregnant with my son it was pretty much decided I would stay in Lanzarote, literally and metaphorically planting a seed for a new life. And besides the man in my life and my child, I also fell in love with the island! The volcanic earth here has a certain energy, it is strong, I likened it to fertility. In many ways. I have never run out of inspiration for my art on the island.
How did you become interested in painting? Have you always been interested in that subject?
Since I was a very young age I was constantly drawing and painting. Sometimes real life can seem boring, I need an imaginary world as an antidote and to have some fun. I love to play with various mediums, but at the same time it can be exhausting switching from one technique to another. I was always happiest using colour. Over the years my work has evolved, but my motivation is pretty much the same.
Sometimes artists get criticized for being too self-absorbed with their subject matter and their artistic endeavor, I feel that for myself, like certain people, we need time to let our imaginations loose. Artists, like a lot of creative people, need time to allow their thoughts to produce something we can share or give back to the others. Artists are not as selfish or egocentric as one might think. We often produce work to seek connection with others, or to help translate into imagery what life is about. My work is a constant search for connection and also discovering new things and surprisingly, it´s about never finding the answer! The day I find the answer, maybe it will be the last day I paint.
What work do you have in the Elements Exhibition at Barstro restaurant and is there a theme to your work?
In the Elements Exhibition I show two mixed media drawings in color, that I use as prep-work for big sized paintings. My theme is branches. I often find them during walks with my dog. As I see it, we don’t have a lot of trees here on our volcanic island, so branches are valuable objects.
Each branch has a story to tell, so I sketch them and some of them inform my work and come to life under my hands, but some branches don´t evolve into a work at all. It is an intimate conversation between me and nature. A few years ago I started to work with very linear drawings, but lately they have evolved into more abstract colourful creatures.
It´s amazing how viewers engage with my work. I´m often asked “what are they”? People feel the need to have a solid identity, a word or a theme, or some safe world to hold onto, but as with all abstract art, as soon as they permit themselves to observe more freely, the connection can often be made.
The viewer of abstract work has created something personal by finding out what that connection is. It might be instinctive, it might be guttural or it might remind them of shapes or images they have seen subliminally. My work has a double layer of meaning, quite primitive yet sophisticated at the same time. I say to people “You can encounter the tragic, the serious or the comic side of existence” and it shows in my work, life is as it is, the viewer finds their own answer.
What’s your goal for your work and do you offer art related courses or workshops on the island or anywhere else?
For the moment I´m still working on the branches concept and would love to bring all the work together in a solo exhibition here in Lanzarote or in Northern of Europe.
I´m also an art teacher at the British School of Lanzarote in Tahiche and enjoy dedicating my time to helping others develop their own visual language.
What is your scariest art moment?
My scariest art moment would be when we get ruled by people who deprive us of the right to create and express ourselves. Art can sometimes be seen as a comment on society, and its frightening to think of living in a culture that censors art to the point of imprisonment. It’s hard to imagine that Michelangelo’s famed Sistine Chapel was once deemed immoral by the Catholic faith. Nudity still has that dangerous taint in many cultures.
What’s your favorite thing about Lanzarote?
My favourite things on Lanzarote are, next to its beauty, the non-polluted fresh air, the space to create and the International blend of people.
Thank you Cindy and good luck with your exhibits.
Cindy’s drawings along with 14 other artists work, can be viewed at Barstro Restaurant in Nazaret, until the end of August 2015. Cindy’s work is due to appear as a solo exhibition at El Grifo, the bodega in Lanzarote until 30th October 2015,