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JDL - Staring at the Light

Words:

Edd Norval
October 22, 2018

Judith de Leeuw aka JDL is a young Amsterdam born artist that focuses on creating lush and intense monochromatic portraits that are loaded with an inherent melancholy as well as a heavy dose of drama.

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The magnitude of emotion that radiates from JDL's monochromatic pieces are a siren-call for our apathetic times. The full range of feeling is exhibited in each of her pieces and for JDL, it her use of only black and white that gives it its power. Colour looks good, but these two are all she needs to get her point across.


Last year JDL was studying at the William de Kooning academy in Rotterdam. It turned out though, that pursuing fine arts only got in her way and slowed down the progress of her real passion - her murals.


It was a depiction of Amy Winehouse that helped put JDL on the map. An enigmatic figure, she captured her true essence is a particularly daunting task. A lot of murals cropped up in the wake of the singer's death, yet it was JDL's depiction of Winehouse's conflicted, anxious and intense air that stood out from the crop.

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On her stylistic choices for the Winehouse portrait, JDL opted to "register her in the most true way I could." Capturing such enigmatic people can be difficult, but, despite her young age, the Dutch artist has consistently managed to explore the depths of her subjects, delving well beyond the surface.


Choosing the mood of the piece was an easy call for her. "I hate how people portray her smiling, how they were clapping for her music while she slowly fell apart." It was with this in mind that JDL researched the woman, her music and her image before allowing the soulful expression of her life to manifest.


The portraits often look like an apparition of faces, both everyday unknowns and musical icons. It's with a mist of reflection that they peer out from the wall and into the souls of passersby. Their faces often feature intricate values and reflections, giving them a sense of life. Their three-dimensionality goes beyond photorealism and into the territories of something slightly more abstract and expressive.

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JDL's youth consisted of similar things to now. Namely, lots of painting and lots of drawing. Never a fan of school she would often play truant, choosing instead to hone her skills as an artist. When she actually did go to school, she'd just draw anyway. Her early obsession never went down well with her teachers but it's exactly this longing for perfection that JDL feels still defines her artistic journey.


Unerringly driven, JDL aims to make every project a considerable step up from the previous one. Just like the young girl growing up, drawing as a way to understand her emotions, she is still guided by the same principles and with the same goal in mind. To express, to the highest level, the feelings behind the face.


With the foundations of concept, expressionism and craftsmanship, JDL maintains her path to the unattainable idea of perfection. Fans eagerly await her next pieces - it's a chance to feel things as she does. Her style, although constantly evolving, is relatively uniform throughout most of her work. It's her trademark now. She's done something that's worth something to a lot of people. JDL may paint faces, but to see them as only that would be to fall far short. Her portraits are more like eternal emotions depicted as ephemeral faces.

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