Marie Louise Elshout

Marie Louise Elshout (Delft, 1967)
Hybrids & Vanitas 2023-heden

Al jaren worden mijn schilderijen bevolkt door dieren meestal in combinatie met vrouwen of als hybride wezens. Sinds vorig jaar heb ik besloten mij volledig te richten op de dieren an sich maar wel op mijn eigen specifieke manier; als hybride wezens in een historische 19e Eeuwse setting.

Door ze op deze wijze te portretteren geef ik hen als het ware een plek binnen onze geschiedenis, op deze manier nodig ik de kijker uit het dier anders te beschouwen en te delen in mijn liefde en fascinatie voor het dierenrijk.

“Dit is werk dat steeds meer in de tijd komt. Marie-Louise Elshout werkt al jaren aan een consistent oeuvre van tekeningen en schilderingen waarop tere, fragiele figuren verschijnen. Het is vaak beschreven als verwijzend naar het occulte, de nachtkant van het bestaan. Dat geloof ik wel. Maar ik geloof ook dat in die mystieke uitstraling een positieve kant zit. Wanneer de dagelijkse realiteit geen enkele uitweg biedt, opent Elshout de deur voor ons naar een nieuwe, onbekende ruimte. Om te veranderen in een nieuw of ander persoon. Marie-Louise kijkt naar binnen, naar de gevoelswereld en de geheimzinnige oorden van de fantasievolle verbeelding.

Het is bijzonder dat in een tijd waarin de oppervlakkigheid van de social media verwarring sticht tussen wat echt en fake is, Elshout’s figuren zich richten op hun binnenwereld die misschien reëler voelt dan die zich buiten hen bevindt. Haar werk is een uitnodiging om stil te worden, en af te durven dalen in het diepst van je gevoelens en gedachten. Haar figuren doen het vaak al voor. Ze trekken zich terug achter hun lange haar, kijken je zelden aan. Hurricane – zo zijn veel tekeningen genoemd – woelt die achter de gesloten ogen?”

Mariette Dölle, directeur Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam, 2022.

'Painting, to Marie Louise Elshout, comes closest to her other passions: nature and romanticism. What truly fascinates her, are the ambivalent (read: love/hate, tender/cruel) relationships between human beings and animals, adults and children, leaders and followers. In her paintings she tries to emphasize on taboos that often create cruelty and fear, abuse and loneliness.

Starting point for her paintings are photographs form 19th Century landscapes, mainly set in North America, where pioneers conquered land, fighting and defeating nature. At first sight, they were building a new life, a new future, but Marie Louise wants to show the dark side of this experience.

Without any respect for nature or the local population, these people were acting out of self preservation and their deeds were mainly fueled by self interest. Marie Louise wants to capture these dark aspects of mankind, expressed in meticulously painted works of art.

She feels familiar to artists like P.J. Harvey, Marina Abramovic, Jerzy Kosinski, Ian McEwan, David Lynch and John Steinbeck, all of whom she admires for their force, their purity and their alienating abilities. Without concessions they show, each in his/her own way, neurotic and destructive powers that drive us, human beings, in this life.

Marie Louise’s paintings are of an extreme beauty, beautiful messages of pain and painful messages of beauty, the viewer is divided between attraction and repulsion.

One needs to be a very strong and determined artist in order to have the courage to mix feelings of aesthetics with those of claustrophobia and fear.'

Manuela Klerkx, Agentschap & Coaching, 2016.

In 2016 Marie Louise Elshout was nominated for the Jacob Hartog Prize, which is given each year at the Pulchri Studio spring Salon.



Hybrid#13 (Sphynxes), 70×70 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2024. (Courtesy Galerie ZERP Rotterdam) The sphynx is a furless cat, although their name would indicate an ancient breed, these felines originated in Canada through breeding of naturally mutated hairless cats. These cats have a striking appearance, identified by their hairless, wrinkled skin and large ears. Sphynxes are known for their extroverted behavior. They display a high level of energy, intelligence, curiosity and affection for their owners. Due to lack of hair Sphynxes need selective care. Hair is essential for a cat: they sense the slightest touch, without hair not only is sensory perception limited to their environment, communication with other cats is also poor; Cats use their fur and whiskers to show how they feel, it also makes them very vulnerable for direct sunlight and hard to keep warm. Sphynxes have the lowest life expectancy of domestic cat breeds.

Hybrid#12 (Clouded Leopard), 170×90 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2024. (Courtesy Galerie ZERP Rotterdam) Meet The Clouded Leopard , the most ancient feline species in the modern cat world.They dwell in the cloud forests of Asia. The wild population is vulnerable and is threatened by large scale deforestation.They are the most adorable predators in the world, but unfortunately, therefore also one of the most poached.Its skin and body parts are offered for decoration and clothing, though it is legally protected in most countries.

Hybrid#11 (Slow Lorises), 90×90 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2024. (Courtesy Galerie ZERP Rotterdam) Slow Lorises are highly sensitive nocturnal primates, they have a toxic bite, a trait rare among mammals and unique among the primates. Deep-rooted beliefs about the supernatural powers of Slow Lorises, such as their purported abilities to ward off evil spirits or to cure wounds, have popularized their use in traditional medicine. Despite local laws prohibiting trade in Slow Lorises and Slow Loris products, they are openly sold in animal markets in Southeast Asia and due to their “cuteness” smuggled to other countries such as Japan for the pet trade. Slow Lorises have a venomous bite, which can be deadly to humans, as a consequence they have their front teeth cut or pulled out before being sold as pets, a practice that often causes infection and death. They make poor pets as they are nocturnal, have specialized diets, are difficult to care for and often die from infection and inadequate nutrition.

Hybrid#10 (Aye-Aye), 30×24 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2024. (Courtesy Galerie ZERP Rotterdam) The Aye-Aye is a friendly nocturnal primate which is drawn to humans, sadly according to Folk belief they bring bad luck and death and must be killed on sight. Some say that the mere appearance of an Aye-Aye in a village predicts the death of a villager, and the only way to prevent this is to kill it. Others believe, if one Aye-Aye points its narrowest finger at someone, they are marked for death. This superstition led to the death of so many that they were almost extinct and are now protected by law.

Hybrid#9 (Xōlōitzcuintles) 80×70 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2024. (Courtesy Galerie ZERP Rotterdam) The Xōlōitzcuintles dogs of Mexico (aka Mexican Nude Dogs) have an ancient history. They are one of the oldest breeds of dogs and were highly revered by the Aztec people. Xolo dogs were esteemed as guards and protectors and were believed to safeguard the home from evil spirits as well as intruders. In ancient times Xolos were often sacrificed and buried with their masters in order to guide the soul on its journey to the Underworld.

Hybrid#8, 110×80 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2024.

Hybrid#7, 70×70 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2024.(SOLD private collection Rotterdam)

Hybrid#6, 170×110 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2024.

Vanitas#2, 100×50 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2023.

Hybrid#5, 190×90 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2023.

Hybrid#4, 100×50 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2023.

Hybrid#3, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2023.

Girl#7, 30×24 cm, pencil, conté, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2021-2024.

Hybrid#2 (Harpy Eagles) 150×50 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2023-2024. (Courtesy Galerie ZERP Rotterdam) The Harpy Eagle, the largest and most powerful bird of prey, also known as royal-hawk and one of the biggest eagles in the world. The Harpy Eagle’s facial feathers can be lowered or lifted at will like an owl. They are monogamous and mate for life. They reside in rainforests and are threatened primarily by habitat loss due to deforestation; large portions of forest are burnt down daily for cattle and agriculture. Although not actually known to prey on humans and only rarely on domestic stock, the species’ large size and fearless behaviour around humans makes them an irresistible target for hunters.

Vanitas#1, 60×40 cm, pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas, 2023.

Hybrid#1, 190×90 cm, pencil, charcoal, conté and oil on canvas, 2023.

Buffalo#1, 90×180 cm, pencil, charcoal, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2016 ( nominated for the Jacob Hartog Price 2016), Courtesy ZERP Galerie, SOLD private collection Rotterdam)

Tree#2, 170×90 cm, pencil, charcoal, conté and oil on canvas, 2018.(SOLD private collection Zutphen)

Studio, 2017

Hurricane#1, 60×40 cm, charcoal, pencil and oil on canvas, 2016, Courtesy ZERP Galerie

Hurricane, 180×90 cm, pencil, charcoal, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2016 (SOLD, private collection, Arnhem.)