The Talented Whetū

Animals and abstracts

By Kate Hartmann

Whetū van den Oever

Whetū van den Oever is an Otaihanga based painter, perhaps best known for her vibrant animal portraits.

In recent times she has found herself drawn to the abstract form and concept.

This particular painting, “Osmosis” is based on nature, as are all of Whetūs’ works and related to her interest in chemistry which she studied at one point in her life.

Osmosis is the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a semi-permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalise the solute concentrations on the two sides. For me this describes how I create my abstracts.”

The story behind “Osmosis”

As Whetū explains further:

The first set up of my abstract paintings is an open journey. At the beginning my senses are charging themselves – sometimes unnoticeable – with information from nature.

During the process of painting this information gets filtered, the colours and patterns mix freely under the guidance of my intuition. Time passes between each layer, different mediums, different colours. It all happens through an intuitive, natural urge to add the next stage.

“Osmosis” Whetū van den Oever. 300 mm x 300 mm. Acrylic and Inks on Board. $280

The signal to stop when a painting is finished is usually just one word entering my mind which will actually be what I have been painting the whole time but may not have realised until that moment.

The title reflects the whole process.  In this case, “Osmosis” has over 20 layers, many layers, one on top of the other until ending with the last layer of bright colour which acts as a filter to balance the subtle layers underneath.”

What’s in a name? Plenty

Whetū migrated to New Zealand from the Netherlands in 2010.

Her Dutch name of Birgitta or Git was difficult for many Kiwis to pronounce and the colloquial use of the word git (idiot) didn’t help matters.

And so after a few months living here and studying Te Reo Māori, she decided to change it.

Her Te Reo Māori teacher suggested she first research the meaning of her original name. Git or Gitta means shining, sparkling, strong.

And so Whetū was chosen which means “star” in Te Reo Māori.


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