During her time in Paris, Mexico and The Netherlands Nancy commissioned portraits of familiy members, close friends and interesting people she met throughout her life.
From an early age Nancy delighted in drawing and writing. Her illustrations and stories won prizes and in recognition of her talent and potential, she was accepted by the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague.
In 1951, eager to refine her painting techniques and further explore colour, she enrolled in the ‘Académie André Lhote in Paris. It was at that time that she discovered Picasso, Paul Klee, Kandinsky, Surrealism, Cubism, Cobra and impressionism. These artists and art styles inspired her in the search for her own style.
When Nancy met and fell in love with Reinhart Ruge, who lived in Mexico, she settled with him in Mexico City where later Nancy’s first daughter Tiahoga was born. In this new and fascinating environment Nancy’s passion and affection for Mexico’s culture and its people blossomed and dramatically influenced her paintings.
Immersed in a macrocosm of brilliant light and vast dimensions, where life often reflected the interplay of cosmic forces, her colourful naïve realism and compositions with scarce lines recreated authentic Mexican landscapes and depicted the daily village life which she encountered during her travels throughout Mexico.
Working always with oil paints and a spatula, Nancy depicted the moods and pulsating rhythms of Mexico’s 1950’s and 60’s. Commissioned portraits together with scenes of fiestas, musicians, dancers, and dream-like figures, dominated her work. She separated from Reinhardt, but her work had attracted the attention of Mathias Goeritz, renowned and influential modernist sculptor and painter who introduced her to prominent figures of Mexico City’s vibrant art world, among whom were Ángela Gurria, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and surrealist Remedios Varo and others. Later on, she met and married her second profound love Valentin Saldaña, and their daughter Alejandra was born in 1964. Her paintings now expressed undulating movements of water, fire and air and became increasingly dramatic. Transformations appeared and forms merged into other forms in large, colourful paintings, often culminating in the figure of a bird that seemingly flew out of the canvas.
After the untimely death of Valentin in 1976, Nancy decided to return to Holland with her daughter Alejandra and created a studio in her parent’s home in Wassenaar. Here, while practising meditation and rediscovering her spiritual inner-self in this contrasting environment with its changing seasons and subtle light, she searched for a new path of artistic expression. Inspired by the flat terrain and the reflections of birds, trees and clouds mirrored in the abundance of canals lacing the Dutch landscape, Nancy’s forms and figures evolved into fractals which became increasingly smaller as they danced towards a central point on the canvas, repeating themselves in ever-darker tones and richer colours.
From 1980 onwards, this process of miniaturization reverses itself. The horizon becomes a source. From a central point on the canvas, round and angular patterns emerge, becoming larger as they spiral out to the edges. Nancy strives to bring harmony to the chaotic interplay of forms by adding rhythm. Later, living in Lelystad and influenced by the changing seasons, the low Dutch light and animals she encountered on her travels, her painting continues to develop. From many directions, patterns and shapes move in rhythmical recurrence across the canvas until they unite, forming an orchestrated image. In her most recent works, the source becomes an arch and points become circles which create openings to other spaces where gesturing figures tell amazing stories – an allegory of Nancy’s bountiful and colourful artistic life.