BY NO MEANS DOES THE WORK OF I...By no means does the work of Iris van Dongen steer clear of gloomy romanticism. In recent years she has been producing drawings several meters in height, these having a certain inescapable quality due to their size alone. Though Van Dongen’s work comes about mainly in an intuitive manner, the theme ‘human tormented by demons’ seems to keep cropping up. For that reason it often has a melancholic or malicious undertone.
The women depicted have a far-away look, because Van Dongen sees them as something abstract, as though they are figures from mythology.
“Although the drawings refer to earlier movements in traditional art, there is always a small element, such as the sweatband with the skull on it, which shows that it is from the present day: a symbol from a contemporary subculture and, at the same time, an age-old symbol. This gives extra emphasis to the aspect of mortality or melancholy – or neutralizes it. The opposites that I juxtapose with each other – ‘good and evil’, ‘past and present’, and, literally, the ‘figurative’ and the ‘abstract’ should give rise to confusion about the limits of these contradictions.”
In this way the surroundings in the drawings of the ‘angels of death’ symbolizes her psyche, as a mirror of her soul, and seems to haunt her, even though she has resigned herself to the fact that it is she who is haunting herself.