(ENGLISH TRANSLATION FROM DUTCH):
“Californian artist inspired by Bobbejaan Schoepen - expo MUHKA extended” By Elke Vanderspyen
Tramaine de Senna is a versatile visual artist from California living in Antwerp. She creates sculptures and objects out of various materials such as clay and fabric and for this, she uses many different techniques. Some themes that inspire de Senna include pop culture and the schism between public imagery and the real life of celebrities.
At the end of 2019, Tramaine de Senna knocked on the door at the Schoepen family. She was intrigued by the life and work of Bobbejaan Schoepen, who she got to know through her research over the costumes of Nudie Cohn. To her great surprise, the American discovered that the largest collection of that American cult fashion designer in Europe was by Bobbejaan and Josée Schoepen. “Bobbejaan introduced me to a facet of Americana which I did not comprehend before. I was researching embroidered western wear suits, particularly those of Nudie Cohn and Manuel Cuevas, and found out that Bobbejaan has the largest collection of stage suits in Europe made by these two fellows. Growing up in the US with its popular culture, I have always seen these embroidered suits on current and nostalgic TV programs and in print media. (…) I've seen these suits on Roy Rogers, Dolly Parton, Sly Stone, Johnny Cash and many more musicians. In the Bobbejaan coffee table book authored by his son Tom Schoepen, I saw beautiful photos of Bobbejaan's boots, suits, car and photos of Bobbejaan with his wife Josephina Jongen in a photo with Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner at Tennessee's Grand Ole 'Opry.” Tramaine de Senna is amazed at Bobbejaan's influence: he has been fascinating many generations from all over the world for the past 75 and he still continues to appeal to people.
"One of the reasons Bobbejaan Schoepen is significant to me is because he transcends and reaches audiences even now, ten years after his death. When I listen to his music, I imagine that he sang to the generation of my grandparents who were worlds away on other continents. Bobbejaan's cowboy aesthetic is strangely familiar for me, an American in Belgium, especially in the context of Bobbejaanland with the Cowboy Playground, Chinese Laundry and Wells Fargo Building (which is funny because Wells Fargo is my bank in California). My ties to cowboys come from popular culture; the settling of California via Spanish missionaries; battles with Mexico, Russia and trade (cow hides, soap, tobacco); and my mother’s side, which has Native American roots from the Cherokee, Sioux and Blackfoot tribes. "
Tramaine hoped to see Bobbejaan and Josee's costumes in Bobbejaanland, but found there only the biography. Jack and Peggy Schoepen and veteran of Bobbejaanland Frans (surname) gave her a personal tour of the private collection. Tramaine was especially impressed with the Pontiac Bonneville and she also took a seat in the legendary car. For the showpiece of her MASTERBLASTER exhibition in the MUHKA, she made her interpretation of Bobbejaan's Pontiac. Due to the corona pandemic, the exhibition is now extended until August 23, 2020. Well worth a visit!
In 2015, Tramaine de Senna was a laureate of the Higher Institute of Fine Arts in Ghent (Belgium); in 2013 she obtained a Master in Fine Arts at the Sint Joost Academy in 's-Hertogenbosch and Breda (Netherlands); and at the University of California at Berkeley (USA), she graduated simultaneously in architecture and in art with the highest distinction.
In addition to her solo exhibition at M HKA, she will also be exhibiting with Lisse Declercq in 2020 in “First Date” with Bernaerts in Antwerp (Belgium) from September 5th to 19th. She is also creating an open-air artwork for the Antwerp city park in collaboration with the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp, which you can visit from July 3rd 2020 to late April 2021.