In the large pastel drawings of Iris VAN DONGEN, mysterious women exude a melancholy air against a setting of concealing mist or filmy spider webs. The poses and the clothing of these self-assured women seem to have been borrowed directly from the catwalk. The artist also draws on death metal, tattoo art and art history for her layered and seductive pastels. The patterns of her colourful dresses recall the multi-coloured decoration of Gustav Klimt and the luxuriant dresses and absent gazes of the women in 19th century Pre-Raphaelite paintings. The drawings, like the historical examples to which they sometimes refer, are loaded with symbolism. VAN DONGEN draws on 19th century vanitas paintings when she tucks a skull motif into a scarf, a printed shirt pattern or a tattoo. Death, sleep and the night are inseparately connected in her drawings. Iris VAN DONGEN skillfully treads the razor-thin line dividing the here and now from the hereafter.
From the catalogue 'Iris van DONGEN - Nox Noctis', GEM Museum, The Hague, 2005