“Her work is full of symbolism and expresses in a striking way the positive and negative emotions of the models” (Ted Scapa about Ankie’s work).
Ankie van Dongen makes both figurative sculptures and abstract works of art: paintings on wood constructions. She has travelled the world and been exposed to a great variety of cultures. This nomadic existence has led to an interesting interaction between the artist and her work. For Ankie, every completed piece of work sparks a new creative process. She continually searches for new ways of creating and feels she is on a never ending journey. It is this attitude which she carries with her to every country. It enables her to build on previous experience while connecting with new surroundings. For example, while living and working in Moscow, she was inspired by her Russian environment. This resulted in graceful sculptures of ballerinas that seemingly eluded gravity, but also the expression of a mourning woman’s despair in Beslan.
Other sources of inspiration for Ankie are architecture and playfulness in games or sports such as chess, soccer and swimming.
Her favourite material for realistic work is cement. This material allows for greater control over the creative process. For Ankie, cement possesses a vulnerable strength and tension. It is less elastic than bronze and therefore easier to manipulate. In her view it requires more attention and care from the sculptor, leading to a closer connection between the artist and her work. Her unpolished sculptures are seemingly robust when viewed from a distance, but in fact consist of soft and porous material beneath a bronze coating. Her constructivist pieces of work are characterized by well defined forms that relate to her special interest in architecture.
Ankie started sculpting in London where she graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts (1983). Her works have been exhibited in various cities such as in Ghana, Madrid, Amsterdam, Bern, Moscow, Strassbourg, Rye (USA). She has taught arts and sculpture at The School of Architecture in Strassbourg and at The Free Academy of The Hague. She is married to a Dutch diplomat and has three grown daughters.
One of her earlier works, a large sculpture of a male nude, is located in the centre of Amsterdam and became a focal point for the international gay community.
Ankie currently lives in The Netherlands. Her atelier is located in a former IBM production facility, nowadays in use by artists, in Amsterdam.