Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (2024)

My personal style signifier is wearing slightly oversized fits.That’s why YohjiYamamoto’s collections – especially menswear – are my go-to. When I paint, I like to wear something comfortable that I can stain without worrying about it. I’m an introvert by nature, so I’d rather blend in and be the observer when I’m in a crowd.

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (1)

The last things I bought and loved were two Akari lamps, originally designed by Isamu Noguchi in the 1950s – the Akari 14A floor lamp and the Akari 1A table lamp, to be precise. I’ve been collecting these sculptural pieces, which are crafted from washi paper, for a while now. I love their fragile beauty and the craftsmanship behind them. They really set the mood. I feel they breathe more life into my studio space. They give me a little company.Isamu Noguchi Akari 14A lamp, £1,010, Akari1A lamp, £305, vitra.com

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (2)

The thing I couldn’t do without is my rescue dog, Balou. I found him in Greece and he has been by my side for five years now. If I had to pick an object, it would be my Da Vinci paintbrushes. I’m not too precious about them, I barely wash them, but I like them to be soft with round edges for smooth strokes. Da Vinci Top Acryl Series 7485, Size 35, £73, jacksonsart.com

As a child, I loved visiting my grandmother; she lived in a cabin in thewoods

The place that means a lot to me is the Amsterdamse Bos, one of the largest city parks in Europe. Whenever I need to slow down, I head into nature with Balou in tow. You’ll often find me there, in the forest, when night falls and there’s no one around. I love the stillness at that time. My eyes have to adjust to the dark, there are animal noises in the background; it makes me relax. In summer my ritual is to swim there in the morning and then have my coffee. Another favourite spot is the Nieuwe Meer, where I love to take an early-morning dip.

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is atraditional kimono from Kyoto. It’s a beautiful reminder of discovering Japan, its culture, interiors, architecture and fashion; I find the “Japanese aesthetic” to be so serene and balanced. My mind is chaotic, soI’m always looking to surround myself with elements that bring peace of mind.

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (3)
Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (4)

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Freedom, Love and Action by the Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. It’s about the mind and consciousness, and is not necessarily the easiest read; one page a day gives me plenty to ponder. I tend to be in my head a lot. Unless I paint, then I’m free. The author lends valuable insights on how to be more present during daily activities. It’s something I’m still working on.

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (5)

My style icons are often older women, especially artists. I get a romantic feeling seeing elderly women, strong women whoknow themselves. The first name thatpopped into my head was Louise Bourgeois. It’s more about the way that shecarried herself. I remember watching adocumentary about her, and in one sceneshe walks through her studio, sees asculpture that she made and suddenly despises, and then smashes it to the floor.

The best gift I’ve received is a Cy Twombly art book. I’m awestruck by his Bacchus series. The abstract shapes speakto a pure, raw emotion that I can relate to. I first saw the book in Reflex Amsterdam gallery and thought about getting it for ages. The owner, Alexander Daniëls, eventually gave it to me.

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (6)

I have a collection of masks that I collect from a secret address that, sorry, Ican’t disclose. A favourite is a Pende Maskfrom Congo with an asymmetrical, somewhat crooked little face that depicts aperson after a stroke. It’s a sad but important topic.Another one I adore is ahyena mask from Mali, which was wornby boys newly initiated into the Kore,oneofthe Bambara people’s six initiation societies. These visuals make myimagination run wild.

The last music I downloaded was GoldbyCleo Sol. It’s a good mix of different musical genres, from soul to R&B, acid jazzand Latin. I love to paint to music. Itenhances the mood I’m in or it helps me tune into a different one when I need to. I’ve played this record over and over.

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (7)
Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (8)

In my fridge you’ll always find sake. My fridge is a bit of a touchy subject, having become a running gag among my friends and my boyfriend: Peggy’s empty fridge.

I have recently discovered sudoku, which challenges my brain in a whole new way. I do it every single day. Not on my phone, butin the newspaper.

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (9)

An indulgence I would never forgo is a meal at Akitsu three times a week. I love this authentic Japanese restaurant so much. My order is pretty much always the same: shabu shabu, of course with a side of sake, and black sesame ice-cream to finish off.

The last item of clothing I added to mywardrobe was a men’s vest by Yohji Yamamoto that I bought in London. It’s abeautiful black piece with a black pattern woven into it; I wear it like a jacket. It’s unassuming but very special.

An object I would never part with is my 1950s Rispal Praying Mantis floor lamp. It re­minds me of my grandmother’s home andthe radiant warmth she had when she was still alive; it’s inspired me to grasp the same energy in my home. I saved up for it and eventually bought it at WonderWood, avintage furniture shop in Amsterdam.

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (10)
Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (11)

The beauty staple I’m never without is a Byredo lipstick in the colour Earth Dust. Ipat this natural shade on my lips and cheeks, which gives me a healthy flush.Byredo Lipstick in Earth Dust, £45

My favourite room in my house is my studio. I spend most of my time here, and particularly so recently in the run-up to my first solo show at Reflex Amsterdam. As soon as I walk over the threshold Iget into painting mode; my monkey mind switches off and I tap into my emotions. The space is an “organised mess”, full of light.

In another life, I would have been a dancer. I trained in both classic and contemporary dance. By the time I was 17, though, I decided to quit. It just wasn’t supposed to be my path, but I still love to dance when I’m by myself. Just like painting, it’s a way to express myself: without words but with lots of grand gestures.

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (12)

The works of art that changed everything for me were by Modigliani andPaul Klee. As a child, I loved visiting mygrandmother, who lived ina cabin in thewoods. That was where Ifirst encountered their work. Both left animprint on me; Modigliani was also inspired by African masks, which you can see in the long faces andexpressions he used. Hewas very introverted, which reflects myself as a person. With Klee, it was the simple shapes and playfulness of imperfection that appealed to me. I worked with different creative mediums such as photography before I started painting. NowI do what I love most.

My favourite website is Nowness, a video channel that focuses on independent creatives. Their content never ceases to inspire me, in particular the short film that fashion photographer Harley Weir made about artist Jacques Lucas’s monumental hand-sculpted house in France, as well as a seductive horror story by Dutch actor and director Gaite Jansen.

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (13)

To feel inspired, I need relaxation, quiet and maybe to get lost in nature. That way my mind softens, which allows me to paint more intuitively. I don’t believe that talent is enough to get you somewhere; it’s also about putting in the work, the hours. I’m not always inspired, but by putting paint to canvas, new ideas and shapes naturally arise.

The podcast I’m listening to is The Great Women Artists by Katy Hessel, a British art historian, writer and curator who wrote The Story of Art Without Men – a book I also highly recommend. I especially enjoyed the episode with Anna Weyant, a phenomenal talent represented by Gagosian Gallery.

My beauty and wellbeing gurus are philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shanka, and yogi and mystic Sadhguru, who mostly speak on the topics of mental and physical health. I always find their talks very inspirational and love to start my day with them.

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (14)

My favourite building is the Mexico City home of artist Pedro Reyes and his wife Carla Fernández. I recently watched a documentary about Reyes, and the concrete building and interior, filled with his sculptures, struck me. They’ve built a community with local artists and craftsmen, who all contributed to the house.

The best bit of advice I ever received was from my mentor, the late Anthon Beeke,who said: “You should always have atiny rock in your shoe.” It’s a Dutch sayingthat means: get out of your comfort zone and your world expands. My dad always said: “Nobody’s waiting foryou.” That sounds harsh, but it made me work harder. You’re the only one responsible foryour destiny.

Peggy Kuiper: The Conversation That NeverTook Place is at Reflex Amsterdam until13 July

Dutch painter Peggy Kuiper talks taste (2024)
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