World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 89 - Iefke Cochius
Iefke Cochius lives on one of the grand avenues of the Hague Statenkwartier in a spacious house. I saw her paintings, of famous women and others on the occasion of the Art Route Statenkwartier.
A few days later I talk to her about her work. She often works in series, says Iefke Cochius. Now she is working on the series women avant la garde. She has made six, women of world renown who were forerunners in their time, and she plans more. The large portraits hang on the walls on the groundfloor of her house.
Iefke Cochius: “These are women who stood out. Just 100 years ago, women were disadvantaged. They had almost no chance to achieve anything, in whatever field. Fortunately that has changed. It wasn’t easy for the women who were succesful then. They often had a life of struggle, sorrow, loss and pain. But they had a special gift that they wanted to bring out.” Iefke has studied the life of these women, she read books and watched movies about them.
The first woman she painted was Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist who made colorful work and is still seen as a symbol of feminism. It is a large painting with flowers all around, and in Frida’s hair. In a rectangle at the bottom of the painting are some self-portraits of Frida. Frida had contracted polio at the age of six, which left her right leg thinner than the left. At eighteen she ended up in a bus accident, of which she felt the impact all her life. Longtime she was confined to bed. She began painting herself using mirrors that her mother mounted at her bedside. She married the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. They led an unconventional life, Frida captured it in her paintings – despite her disability.
Next she painted Virgina Woolf, British writer and feminist. Then Coco Chanel, the fashion designer, who freed women from their corsets. Josephine Baker, who started as a maid, developed herself into the famous revue dancer, and later became an advocate for the rights of Afro-Americans. Camille Claudel, the French sculptor and Rodin’s muse. Marlene Dietrich, revue dancer and movie star. For the seventh painting she has an eye on Edith Piaf. “Known as excellent chansonnière. She also had a difficult life, like most of the other women. She educated several young singers, such as Aznavour and Moustaki, which I still find great music.”
People of the World
In addition to this series, Iefke Cochius has painted several other series such as recently ‘People of the World’, a series of portraits of people from all over the world. Further landscapes, still lifes, ‘animals and children’, abstracts, fantasy worlds and females. I see them in the rooms upstairs. Most paintings of the previous series are sold. She looks back to that with great satisfaction. She just sold two paintings of avant-garde women. Cochius: “People are so happy with it and that motivates me to continue.”
At this moment she considers the painting of Frida Kahlo as her key work, the first of the series Avant la Garde women. “In these women, I found it very important to place them in a proper environment. I had to think carefully about it. I started to use other techniques.” She processed stained glass in several paintings, for example in the portraits of Frida Kahlo, Marlene Dietrich and Josephine Baker.
Iefke Cochius began painting in 1990. As a girl she would have liked to go to the Art Academy, but she wasn’t allowed by her parents. Then she became an engineer. She studied at the Technical University Twente, Applied Mathematics, and graduated as an industrial engineer. She was the first female engineer in Twente. She started working as editor at a large publishing group. “Fun, creative work.” But when her husband went to Oman for Shell, she went with him, and she began to paint. Later in Aberdeen, where her husband was stationed then, she followed courses for a while and then in The Hague she did as well. A real art training at an Academy she didn’t have.
She likes nothing better than painting. “The great freedom that a painting life brings!” She also wants to have the freedom to paint whatever she fancies. “No straitjacket: it should be this and this is the only way.” No, it’s always a surprise what will come next.
May practical aspects she likes. “Working with my hands, making lists, devising ways to turn my ideas into a painting, working with the brush and paint …. And above all: working with colors! Color is the element that connects all my paintings. I think sometimes quite a long time about a new painting. Take, for example Edith Piaf. How do I get the music element in the painting?
Images: 1) Frida Kahlo, 2) Coco Chanel, 3) Camille Claudel, 4) Josephine Baker, 5) Marlene Dietrich, 6) Virginia Wollf, 7) Carnaval, 8) Fritilaria meleagris, 9) Iefke, 10) Paarden en kinderen, 11) People of the world – China, 12) People of the world – Japan, 13, Stilleven, vaas, bramen etc.