Books & Videos

Press: The Essence Of Cleuren, April 27, 2020 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

The Essence Of Cleuren

April 27, 2020 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

Who is Gabriëlla Cleuren? What’s in a name? Cleuren comes from the word kleuren. Kleuren is Dutch for colours or colouring. It’s no surprise Gabriëlla talks in colours. She’s born that way.

If you look at Gaby’s online gallery you’ll notice a large collection of paintings. But there’s much more in the archive. Feel free to send us a message if you like to see more.

50 years of passionate painting, a colourful way of life. She collected and still collects mental images. Details from her daily life are categorised under Inside World. Next to that there’s the Outside World, a never ending collection of images that tries to capture the times we are living in.

Press: The Computer Diaries, March 26, 2020 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

The Computer Diaries

March 26, 2020 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

Since she discovered the Paint software, around the beginning of this century, Gabriëlla sometimes uses her computer as an artistic diary, as a part of the Virtual World series.

Gabriëlla: “There’s stuff you can’t do in real life. For instance: you don’t need brushes, you don’t need unhealthy sprays. You can always change background colors in a split second. Copy or delete things, duplicate details or patterns, inverse the painting, and so on.”

Gabriëlla always transforms feelings and atmospheres into colors. Just like her Virtual World paintings it’s her way to save daily experiences and memories, from Osama Bin Laden till the sadness of her cat that recently died.

Gabriëlla: “It’s weird. When i look at all my computer works, it feels like going to a therapist. It’s like looking at the person i used to be, a collection of my characteristics.”


Press: The light symbolic, January 20, 2020 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

The light symbolic

January 20, 2020 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

Gabriëlla: “Gloomy people need light. Light a candle and everything looks better, no? So why don’t they make light?”

Gabriëlla started thinking about that. It’s a metaphor, light as a positive vision on life. Light as a symbol. She already made some works in 2013 and only realised afterwards that the power of that metaphor was already in the paintings. Escape from the dark, entering the light.

At a moment when she had some dark moments in her own life, she collected newspaper clippings. Inspired by the faces on the pictures she created her own story, her own vision. Gabriëlla: “The symbol of light is a universal thing. Christmas is a good example.”

It’s about a positive way of seeing, everything clears up, the awareness kicks in. It’s looking for a grip, advancing, trying to get rid of the dark, the negativity.

Press: The walk, October 25, 2019 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

The walk

October 25, 2019 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

The Walk

A memory is always coloured, very personal, it’s never a fact, that’s why it’s not really a reliable tool in a lawsuit. It’s virtual, it’s living in the head, the mind, the heart. It can be coloured by wishful thinking, by conversations about a certain fact, by feelings in general. Gabriëlla: “Reminiscence triggers creativity.”

For Gabriëlla reminiscence is an ocean filled with inspiration, a world next to the real world, another virtual world. Gabriëlla: “Virtual worlds are not perfect, it consists of free forms, in a free style. Sometimes they look a bit lumpy, but that’s part of their charm. Like the brutal work of Basquiat.”

Press: Cataclysm, where the end starts, June 14, 2019 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

Cataclysm, where the end starts

June 14, 2019 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

Cataclysm, where the end starts

Warning: this is a dark page in history, pitch black. In april 2010 the Gulf of Mexico turned black. The Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig used by the BP oil company, exploded and almost 5 million barrels of oil escaped into the ocean. It became one of the biggest environmental disasters ever. A symbolic one, we realize more and more oil is killing us: CO2, plastics, pollution…

Gabriëlla was flabbergasted when she witnessed that apocalyptic scene on tv. As a response she attacked the canvas for a month, making 20 paintings about the extinction of all seas, they became all warnings for the future.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Gabriëlla: “And look where we are now. We are still living in a mad world. It’s sad. A lot of oil companies are still not thinking of our well being, sending their lobby groups to influence politics everywhere. Only profit is their aim. With all the money they earn, they could make a better world.”

But there’s more climate change consciousnes now? The youth will fix it?

Gabriëlla: “Thirty years ago it was already a big problem, but nothing happened. I think it’s too little, too late now. They can try, but this transition demands so much effort, on an international level, it’s so complicated. It’s like trying to turn a Titanic sized boat 180° in just a couple of seconds. Am i pessimistic when i say it's impossible?”

And she ends with a humoristic note: “Do you know that there used to be poles on the African continent? Pollution could turn the poles again, tip over the earth, we will all be flying for free (laughs)”

Black humor on a black page. Brave new old world.

Press: Health, March  3, 2019 - Gabriëlla Cleuren


March 3, 2019 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

Health, a virtual world

The human being is a fragile creature. In the series ‘Health’ Gabriëlla tries to process her feelings that are triggered by pain, illness, health problems, the care of a family member. It  belongs to life and Gabriëlla tries to translate it into her virtual worlds. 

Gabriëlla: “Every person gets to deal with health problems. Life is not always a bed of roses. That’s very recognizable.”

How does it inspire? Gabriëlla: “It’s an addiction of the mind. It’s a way of fixating my life in images. It gives meaning to life. A lot of people don’t know what to do with those feelings. It’s my way of dealing with it, turning in into a meaningful power.”


Press: Virtual Worlds, February 27, 2019 - Gabriêlla Cleuren

Virtual Worlds

February 27, 2019 - Gabriêlla Cleuren

Virtual Worlds, a diary

Back in the old days painters told there stories through icons and symbols. In the nineties Gabriëlla decided to use the efficient visual language of computers. She tries to fit her feelings and observations in pictograms, creating her own ‘Windows’. And there’s another virtual touch to it: she paints with pixels, emotional ones, spontaneous dots.

Gabriëlla: “In my series Brave New Old Worlds the pixels look almost crumbled, very rough, referring to the crumbling of the time, evolving in a good or bad way.”

To show us that her Virtual Worlds are timeless, she brings us to the Maria Magdalena church, close to the central station in Brussels. “I’m not really a religious person, but the way the light is filtered through the glass windows, almost makes me cry. It’s so beautiful, peaceful. A glass window is divided into different pieces, i feel connected to that method, it’s how i divide a painting into pictograms.”

Another similarity between the glass windows and Gabriëlla’s paintings is the use of a central figure, surrounded with an ‘entourage’. Gabriëlla: “It’s very touching, because it goes back to the essence of mankind. I always use a central subject that i wreathe with what happens around me, what i feel, what i think… And i repeat those things, just like those figures in the glass windows return.”


Press: The Powerful Poetry Of Nature, December  7, 2018 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

The Powerful Poetry Of Nature

December 7, 2018 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

In the summer of 2014, Gabriëlla decided to dedicate a series of her work to the poetry of the forest/wilderness.

Gabriëlla: “Back in those days traveling abroad became impossible for me, so I decided to turn my attention to a nearby biotope: a lake surrounded by a forest, an area where i walk with my husband a lot.”

Press: Games in Brave New Old Worlds, November  7, 2018 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

Games in Brave New Old Worlds

November 7, 2018 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

Being an artist Gabriëlla Cleuren can’t be indifferent for the horror that the world faces today. War, violence, climate change, refugees, … It seems to be a never ending story. “My paintings in the serie Brave New Old Worlds are mostly symbolic, they try to capture a lot of similar stories at the same time. I’m continuously looking for images that express solitude, abandonnement, iniquity, violence, revolution… It’s my social criticism with a twist, adding my own accents,” Gabriëlla explains.

Press: Ik ben een gedreven kunstenaar, November  1, 2017 - Gabriëlla Cleuren

Ik ben een gedreven kunstenaar

November 1, 2017 - Gabriëlla Cleuren


Dutch spoken.

Text in english below.


I am an artist who works daily. For me it is a necessity to sharpen my skills. When I don’t work a few days my hands feel uneasy. I try to do it every day.

Many people ask me: ‘Are you always inspired and where does it come from? I think I am like Picasso. My life is my inspiration.

Many simple things happen to me every day, unimportant events, for others banal things, but I notice them.

I have dedicated several series to that or painted in systems if you want to define it like that. These daily notes I called virtual worlds or diary. Virtual because they concern little events that happen to me, but I registrate as well how I think about that.

These memories I find very important, naturally they are personally colored. And I cann’t understand why some people attach an almost scientific value to this, like in court, used to condemn others.

It is always very personal and so I want to see it. My memory I try to connect to a general vision, something that is true for all human beings. The universal it is called in art, and I think it is also present in banal things.

The language I use in this series is not academic, not meticulously, all a bit scotch and crooked, and because I started computering a long time ago, I saw that computers worked with systems and pictograms.

Than I thought: let me create my own pictograms.

These pictograms I use in my work to explain things, so you can find them written over my work, over my memories to clear what it’s all about and what I want to say. If it is always seen and understood by others, I don’t know. Sometime it can be very unintelligible, but I don’t mind.

It is very important for me what rises from such a leaf, from such a paper. The loading of life itself I think, that is also important.

Aside from this series, I have another kind of work, because an artist has to witness his time and surroundings, not only his life, but also of the world around him. Today I find that we live in such a hectic, overthrowing world we cannot deny.

What do I do with it?  (4/38).

These are things I am confronted with through television or newspapers or magazines. (I still read a newspaper every day) and there I search for little cutouts that inspire me immediately, not only by the content but also because of the aesthetics. So that I say: ‘I can do something with that’. Then I cut it out and after a certain time, I start working at it and look how I can fill it with my own vision. This might not be understood by someone else, but there is a clear line and vision behind it.

This I had to collect in a series because virtual worlds are my own worlds. Of cause this is my own world too, a vision I developed.

Once I was in the Prado. I saw a lot of art there, but paintings that overwhelmed me were the dark works of Goya. Not so long ago I saw an exhibition in the Hermitage of Amsterdam, showing Goya and his vision on the world and human beings. I really think this view could be stuck to our time. Perhaps it is a little bit negative, a little bit atrabilious. But Goya was someone who looked well through his time. He fixed it in his graphic work that he was afraid to show during his life time.  The large works of kings, these fantastic works of him are well known, or he is famous for. This graphic work of him is the essence of man.

That is where I started and collected cutouts in magazines, newspapers that reflected a view of the 21e century. And what did I discover? Yes, nothing has changed, anything came back in another form. I thought people would turn their backs on those shocks in society. But nothing is less true. Everything, every event returns in another form. I was convinced that people with their long and high level possibilities would abandon those chocks.

I find that the difficult, the intolerable, ‘the fist and war’ ‘is back.  The war like in Goya’s time between the Spanish and the French. It is disturbing for me to notice it.

It continues going further downhill to a negative position. These worlds I put together in BNOW: brave new, old world. 

These are new, repeated old worlds, a repetition we face today. I don’t see it as continuity, or as a straight line, but as a circle who turns always back.

Perhaps it is a reality that people don’t have the possibility to rise above themselves. That is it what I show in my works, in a very own way. Because I worked with the computer in de 70-80 and in the 90-ties, even more, I discovered computer systems at people working with it.  Now a day it’s better known through pixels, printings. But at the time it were only systems. I choose one of these systems but because I find that the emotional part should be kept, I wrote it in a gestural mode. It shouldn’t be systematic for me. The computer systems are always leading the drawing, or the painting, in technique or form, not in the content, I already explained before.

As an artist from the 21e century I have to use contemporary methods and technique. The same at my virtual worlds where I put pictograms over my work. These forms are two parallels to the computer worlds and I find it important also to express that.

Evolution. At this moment (I did show this already) I am working at an ornamental world, as a counterweight to the heavy things of the 21e century. And there is something between it. I lived almost 4 years in the Caribbean. I returned there on regular base and I used the landscapes, there where nobody lives, very desolate, only with rocks, beaches, sea and no living creatures. I used them to express the enormous solitude.

There aren’t any people in the landscapes.

I always hear that I sail my own route. I am very little connected to other artists, perhaps in the content, but not in the form, because I went straight on my own way.

In the beginning I asked sometimes the meaning of others: ‘How do you find this or that?’. But I got answers that didn’t bring me something, a view. So I thought: trace your own route, go straight ahead and express yourself like you feel you have to do. This didn’t always fit with a trend or environment or with other artists, who stood very often a lifetime in their own region. This is a strange thing and not always understood. But do you have to be understood? I don’t know.

 I think it should be, because you have the intention to create a dialogue, you want to transmit something. You want to communicate your vision, and it should be understood.

But then sometimes I have to explain things.


Gabriëlla Cleuren 2017 november.