Since her earliest years, Jeanne Dekkers is involved with visual arts. Beside sketching and painting she designed her own clothes, built kites and made furniture. She continued painting and sketching aside her career as an architect. She considers her buildings as objects in space build in the section of time. Since het two eldest children Elise and Anton Zoetmulder have followed in her footsteps as architects, she is able to focus on her artistic callings and abilities. Since 2013 she is painting in a big studio in a traditional square farm in the south of Limburg, renovated by her design.

Jeanne Dekkers about painting

Painting is a continuous search along the edges of memory in itself. Like a dream in which a sequence of events take place. Travels, projects, my youth and life, landscapes and feelings are translated in images beyond the sensation of time. I work in themes, that follow each other continuously. Like a journey I come across different worlds, which I want to analyse and that guide me to new images. Composition, colour and experience play a big role, which are elements that I frequently explored in my profession as an architect. Simultaneously poetic images arise, showing different worlds. Analysing the use of materials which persists through my work.

The abstraction of the landscape and the nature is very fascinating to me. In this I create a world of images related to experiences. Creating architecture, in which non-existing worlds are imagined and realized, is comparable with painting. The painting of a non-existing world which creates new sentiment.

From the discovery of my surrounding world I see new things I had never seen before and that makes me emotional. Rather close to me than far away. The world around us is infinitely huge due to globalization, the virtual worlds and the never ending information that reaches us is overwhelming. In order to survive as a human being in this multitude of stimuli, I search in my nearby environment, so I can form an autonomous attitude, that I can use as a starting point to participate in the my surrounding world. My work represents this attitude.

Themes in my work

On the way. On the journey from close to far, I am amazed and therefore sketch down what I experience as notes. Sometimes recognizable, sometimes abstract, but always in connection within the atmosphere of the place. Colours, surfaces, movements and space are registered and lead to series in result of a journey. For instance: The termite mounds in Namibia, the colours of the land, and the sand give rise to paintings, as well as the prehistoric rock carvings- petroglyphs, which depict an earlier era of abundant animal life and human habitation.

Insight-memories. Memories intertwine without awareness of time and space and are sometimes clearly visible nearby or often far away and inaccessible. In this process a dream image arises in which present and past meet in an infinite space.

No home. Fugitives, young men from Africa are dreaming of a better life in Europe. They end up in the fake world of Europe in which they sell fake watches, cell phones, handbags, sport shoes and sunglasses. In Paris they sell small Eiffel towers as key ring, while they have no home. That makes me shrill, that touches me.

Swimming-floating. Swimming is like floating in the water, floating is like swimming in the space. Detached from any matter, being part of a greater whole. The dead little bird floats in the air of memory, the mouse in his hole as part of the earth. Like the waves in the water around the swimmer, everyone is surrounded by waves, an immediate vicinity in the infinite space. The grave of the ladybird is a literal translation of this view.

Me too #You too. The searching glimpses of our attackers reveal the possibilities for unacceptable behaviour. The edge of a boundary is tricky to define, but very tangible. A research that leads to autonomous images, in which faces become masks and lines become bodies and landscapes.

Resonance of the country-side. The inner-memories of landscapes in lines, colours and views are reason to investigate large and small formats in the play of colours, proportions and compositions. The abstraction of the twilight, the sunset, the dew at dawn and the mist in the valley. The everyday glistering of the landscape in every season.

Sketchbooks. In my sketches thinking and feeling are one and the same. No preconceived plan, but free flowing lines and colours over the paper, creating an image that what did not exists.
A fascinating play that goes on and on endlessly. Similar to the notes created by travelling through countries and landscapes, people and their culture. Notes of objects in space, fragments of experience, notes of time and space. The source of inspiration and springboard to my larger works.

Recent work. Themes follow each other like a journey in search of the new in the existing time. By looking, feeling and listening to the things we thought we knew, I see and show again and again.

Prints of impression. Mirroring time, events and prints of life. Olives in Olliveta san Michele.


Jeanne Dekkers was born in Venlo and grew up in Maastricht. Caught in between the choice between art and science, she decided to study Architecture at the Technical University of Eindhoven. The combination of technique and design resulted to the optimal choice. Throughout her study, she won a number of competitions in architecture.

After finishing her study, she started working at EGM architects, to occupy the position of partner-director. After that she started her own office ‘Jeanne Dekkers Architecture’ in Delft. With what she created a broad and beautiful portfolio. She designed university buildings in Delft, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Twente. She created several city fire stations, city halls and police offices. The Limburg Museum in Venlo, the international working firm Deltares in Delft and the Ligne building in Sittard in which the museum De Domijnen, a film theatre and the Zuyd University is located.

Her two eldest children Elise and Anton Zoetmulder followed her in her profession, all current projects are in strong co-operation with them.

Throughout her study, she was a teacher for first-year students at the university. From that time on, she continued teaching students on academies and the universities in the Netherlands and abroad. She was appointed for the position of Professor for Architecture at the Technical University of Eindhoven. Her inauguration was named ‘Poetic Engineering, the connection between ratio and intuition.’ Where she researched designing from experience of the senses. In Delft she started the platform Sense and Care, where designing based on ‘The program of experience’ is the focus point.

Architect Jeanne Dekkers participated in many boards for architecture and arts. She was member of the ­­­­board of ‘De Rotterdamse Kunststichting, Kunsten’92, Bond van Nederlandse Architecten en Raad voor Cultuur. Currently she is member of the supervisory board of the Museum Muiderslot and the ‘buitenplaats Kasteel Wijlre’ estate. Regularly she participates in national and international jury’s, gives many lectures and has a wide range of publications.

Her work and her sketches are frequently exhibited. In 2012 Jeanne Dekkers was appointed by the queen as a knight in the order of Oranje Nassau.

Exhibitions of sketches and paintings

2014-2015 About sketching-a dream that is landing. In Delft, Nijmegen, Haarlem, Alkmaar, etc.

2011 Exhibition of art in the mound church of Urmond, Delft and The Hague

*Visiting exposition space and atelier by appointment.

Translation Jan van Amerongen


  • foto landschappen

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