feature_hartNathalie Hartjes



Nathalie Hartjes is Artistic Director of the New Vide artspace and studios and becoming the new Director of Showroom Mama in Rotterdam. In addition, she has published for Tube Light magazine, Kunstbeeld, Concrete Brut and BAM – Institute for visual, audiovisual and media art. At the request of Eightfold she wrote about Steye Felix.


Written by: Nathalie Hartjes 

Steye Felix (1990) is a young artist whose practice has its foundations in formal painterly abstraction. Yet although the discipline painting remains an important center to his universe,  Steye frequently ventures out on different paths, leading him to music, soundscapes, installations, even needlework and most recently glass.


The principles of his practice seem simple, but it’s simplicity comes through a labor intensive process. As a tight-rope walker Steye Felix creates compositions charged with tension by combining form and color in such a way that it feels ever so slightly off balance. At first glance his paintings appear calm and poised, but a small stripe of pink protruding through two shades of mossy jades sends you teetering of the brink – almost. Well-placed brushstrokes are sanded down and entangled with new ones. His works often include no more than three or four different hues, but the borders of his canvases reveal a spectrum of advances made until the desired contrasts were achieved.


The key in looking at Steye Felix’s work is allowing your eyes to wander the borders you meet. The borders of colors, shapes, textures and materials. Steye creates images that seem effortless. He tricks us, wanting us to believe that the works has just been thrown together and there it was, as if it had some prior existence which just needed his hand to manifest itself. Yet if we allow ourselves the time to wander along the contours of his actions we discover an energy that continously tests shapes, dogma, style, and expectations.


In his paintings the use of color undercuts the classic formal approach, the tones betray popculture influences. Pinks and turquoises, oranges and bright blues hide in the veins of earthy tones. Less than harmonious, Steye gives his work a playfully tacky tint. And in his most recent glass projects, references can be found to those we all recognize from kitschy interiors embellished with fake Swarovski plates and candleholders. He reminds us that beyond the stern and formal exterior of his work lies a smart and witty turn…