Isabelle van Zeijl’s fascination for blending traditions, history, symbols, and craftsmanship lead her to the designs of award-winning, Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen. Van Herpen expresses the character and emotions of women, extending and enhancing the shape of the feminine body. She mixes craftsmanship, using old and forgotten techniques, with innovation and materials inspired by the world to come. “For me fashion is an expression of art that is very closely related to me and my body. I see it as my expression of identity combined with desire, moods and cultural setting. Fashion has always been an important element to give women power and status.” For this reason, Van Zeijl makes a cultural connection with the designs of Iris van Herpen.

All life we are affected. Transitioning from youth to adulthood, becoming a partner, a mother, finding a role in society, and all other obstacles that life throws us: we try to find grip. The society we live in enforces role models. But these are only masquerades. All those masks and skins alienate us. They are intangible. Unattainable. They universalise beauty.” Van Zeijl explores the enigmatic female face in a series of self-portraits. “I turn an inquisitive eye not only on how we shape our notions of beauty but also the charged relationships between painting and photography, truth and reality.

The world is full of relentless imagery of pseudo-glamour masquerading as beauty. In reality this has nothing to do with beauty; it is about conformity, brand and formula. Peddlers of false hopes, hierarchies, religions and pornographies have all pursued and formulated beauty to their own ends. Without character and emotion, there is no beauty. It is too oppressive to present one ideal to women”. In her new series, Van Zeijl aims to shed light on the beauty myth and role of the female within society.

Artists working in any medium and from anywhere in the world are invited to apply to Young Masters Art Prize in 2017. Applications open until 31 March 2017.