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Art of symbolism
Emile Snellen van Vollenhoven

Emile was born in 1956 in The Hague, The Netherlands a few moths after his parents were dispelled from Indonesia. His mother came from Solo, Java, his Dutch father was born in Padang, Sumatra and worked as an agricultural engineer for a long time. In 1967 his parents divorced. From that moment on his father lived alone and died in 1979.

From childhood on Emile's father was a critic master to him and he introduced Emile into the world of art. To his father Emile's talent was clear from the beginning and artists and gallery owners confirmed this. There was no doubt that Emile should go through life as an artist, according to his father. However, Emile didn't have a positive perception of living life as an artist at that stage in his life. Instead of dedicating himself to art, he first chose to make a career according to societies standard. Earning a lot of money and achieving status became important to him, in which he succeeded by means of a commercial job. After a while this way of living didn't give any meaning to him, so he once again went to college and began to look at society through social and managerial functions.

All this time Emile developed himself as a person and kept on improving his artistic skills in private. He married at an early age, had two children and after his divorce in 1992 it became clear to him what is really important to him in life. At that moment he occupied a social function and it took him ten years more before he took the step to dedicate himself full-time to his art. In that, his partner in life plays a very important part.

On April 22nd 2001 Emile appeared, accompanied by body painted women and welcomed with great acclaim, at his first exhibition. It was a great self-organized spectacle to present himself to the outside world as an artist. Two years later international exhibitions in New York, Yogyakarta and Antwerpen are following and special offers from art agencies and invitations from galleries from all over the world are pouring in.

"... Given his background, he never forgot Indonesia, homeland of his mother. So it is in Indonesia that he finds a lot of inspiration as well. As for presenting himself to the world, he uses his experience to do this very professionally." (Dr. Boudewijn Brands, art critic, Yogyakarta - Indonesia, April 2003)

To Emile each painting is unique in its own complexity, so he doesn't make large series. In addition, he has a tendency to mystification of the immaterial. This makes his art unpredictable. Emile is the product of two cultures and this materializes in his work. The uncertainty of belonging, the integration of East and West, makes the Eastern mystique beneath the veneer in his paintings evident. Testing boundaries, norms, values and society's rules which he thinks imprison us, thinking and feeling are encapsulated in his paintings. All this manifests itself in representations dealing with religion, erotica, humanity, good and bad, choices, growth and destruction, love and emptiness.

Emile paints filled with passion and complete dedication without any feeling of time or struggle. Unless when it comes to an assignment, which requires a rational approach. His private conversations with friends and acquaintances and his motherland Indonesia are providing him the inspiration for his paintings.

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