Marlien Venema lives and works in Koog aan de Zaan, a town near Amsterdam. She studied graphic design at the Willem de Kooning Acadamy in Rotterdam and fine arts at the Koninklijke Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in The Hague, Netherlands.

People and landscape play a central role in her work in which she explores a sense of freedom, paradise and adventure. Marlien Venema is inspired by the memories from her childhood in Africa and the rural countryside in the Netherlands. She had a typical Dutch 70s style upbringing packed with curiosity, explorations and play. The longing to venture into new worlds of wonder never faded and so she paints.

The flipside of freedom is loneliness, while travelling you can be overcome by homesickness and you risk getting lost while on an adventure. These are related themes appearing in her work. In some paintings a distance to the figure emphasizes a feeling of loneliness. In others paradise will be pictured by the display the home or patterns in a skirt. Together her paintings form a story of a journey or may be even a quest.

And of course, these are universal themes that are told through many different stories. In a fast changing world we need to choose to stay with the old or try new ways. These choices are never easy. Either staying or going will take courage which we often do not have. We do it anyway and hope the sun will shine tomorrow.

Marlien Venema starts her work usually based on parts of found photographs. She is for instance attracted to old photographs of the first explorers and patterns in traditional clothing. The use of photo negatives amplifies the feeling of nostalgia and distance in the image. To give the paintings power Marlien Venema often uses penetrating colors such as fluorescent acrylic or ink with a lot of pigment, which suit her personality. Together with a loose brush stroke she tries to complete the feeling of alienation and romance.

Nieuwe Academie Utrecht 2018 (post academic year led by Frans van Tartwijk)
Koninklijke Academie Beeldende Kunsten The Hague 2004-2008 (fine arts / painting)
Willem de Kooning Academie Rotterdam 1992-1996 (graphic design)

member of the art collective Art Allies
member of the art collective Tengel
previous: treasurer of art collective Stichting Popinnart (2019-2022)