SCHUNCK Vera Gulikers atelierfoto PLP

Meet: Vera Gulikers

Vera Gulikers (30) is one of the nominees for the Parkstad Limburg Prize. She paints and makes sculptures.  

Vera was born in Meerssen and studied at the academy in Maastricht and Antwerp. She then returned to her Maastricht for a residency at the Jan van Eyck Academy. She now has a studio in the AINSi; with large windows, high ceiling and a view of the river Meuse. "I like working here; it's quiet and always seems sunny. At the same time, it is close to the city."

Her painting work revolves around the role of women within art history. Her work - paintings and sculptures - is very accessible and colourful. She explains where that comes from. "I find it important to create something that immediately appeals to a viewer, but at the same time has a deeper layer. For instance, the colours and shapes of my work initially attract attention, on a second look you will see that there is more behind it. It looks abstract, but it is essentially very figurative."

She likes to compare her style to a sweet shop, not least because of the "yummy" colours. "The use of pastel colours is a typical example of how I like to work: experiment and only stop when I recognise myself in something. At the academy, I worked a lot with plaster and wanted to make some brightly coloured sculptures. But during the process I found that the colours dried up lighter and lighter, it ended up in pastels. I liked it. The attraction of the colours draw the viewer, as it were, to the references underneath."

A teacher at the academy informed her that he got a foul taste in his mouth from the pastel colours. "A comment like that triggers me, it indicates that it chafes. Then I go right ahead with it," she laughs. "I seek the tension between the macho-like of abstract expressionism and the sweet, girly aspect of pastels. That counterpoint works."

Asked what she would do with the prize money, should she win, she modestly replies: "It would be a nice support to continue working. Money offers freedom. My ultimate dream is to be able to continue painting my way for years to come, without restrictions."

Vera also previously painted a mural at SCHUNCK. Read more about it here.

You can visit the exhibition of the Parkstad Limburg Prize nominees from 30 October.