When Madeleine van Kleef decides to do something, she does it. That much was clear when she gave up working as a secretary in her native Holland to become a beautician relatively late in life, just as it was clear when she suddenly decided to learn how to paint. Fast-forward nine years, during which time she moved to Portugal to be closer to her son’s young family, and Madeleine’s work has certainly made an impression. “I saw a nice, happy picture one day, full of colour, and I thought, ‘maybe I could do that’. I started taking lessons and looked on the internet for inspiration from different artists, and I just started painting.” W After selling her beauty farm in Holland and downsizing her business, it was her move to the Algarve that allowed her to dedicate more time to her painting. Madeleine’s work is incredibly distinctive, and her brightly coloured, full-figured characters enjoying good food, good wine and general merriment are always sure to raise a smile. And in truth, it’s not hard to see where Madeleine gets her inspiration from: “I love champagne!” she laughs. “It’s about people having a good time, friendship, drink, food, cake… My paintings are fun and colourful, everyone is having a good time. It’s what I would do!” With titles like Shall we party later?, Chocolate Party and Love is in the air, her bar and party-themed paintings in particular have been a huge hit. Using mostly acrylic, her medium of 37 2 choice, Madeleine’s subjects are generally portly with large eyes and mouths ­ “Small mouths aren’t funny. They have to be big and smiling” ­, depicted with details such as Portuguese wine, French Champagne, lobster, tea and cakes. “I started painting really fat ladies, but they have got slimmer over the years,” admits the artist, a true lady of leisure who paints at her home in Carvoeiro where she lives with her partner. Another series that has received much interest is ‘Bla Bla Bla’, a more French-chic style that’s “a bit more serious with slimmer women, but they do talk a lot”, explains Madeleine, who usually opts for red, black, white and grey in this particular series. Receiving various commissions, particularly of bar scenes ­ one such painting is currently hanging up at Carvoeiro Bar ­, her work has been displayed at the Arte Algarve gallery in Lagoa and was one of the most appealing stands at the gallery’s summer art exhibition along the quay at Ferragudo. “It’s great to see people walking past, stop, and suddenly a big smile appears on their face.” Having recently started taking lessons in oil-painting to “understand how to work with it”, Madeleine has also experimented with other styles, but admits she prefers her larger-than-life characters to more realistic portraits. When asked if moving to the Algarve has helped develop her work, Madeleine ponders for a moment: “In Holland everything is behind closed doors. Here, because of the weather, everyone is outside, they go to the beach, have parties…” She smiles, “I have a good time in Portugal”.

For more information, contact 912 061 936 or find Madeleine Art on Facebook.

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

Share This Post On