Hans van Bentem


Hans van Bentem was born in The Hague in 1965 and from 1983 to 1988 he studied at the Royal Academy for Visual Arts. He chose the Monumental Design department and his discipline was at first painting, with a strong preference for figuration. After this phase, however, he was explicitly attracted to sculpture, and ceramics is the first material in which he became proficient. This was followed by materials such as crystal, wood, porcelain and bronze, sometimes in combination with each other. Baroque creations often arise in a mix of contemporary forms from mass culture with images from the past. Partly because of his attention to traditional craftsmanship, his work takes on a hybrid look. Tradition and imagery from art history interact with contemporary iconography.

Van Bentem often creates large monumental works and his preference even extends to installation art. In this, several materials and objects come together in an even more complex interplay in which an apparently random game is played of associations and attributes with content that may or may not be loaded. Thus we see the elegance and rich exuberance of a crystal chandelier in dialogue with the shape of a skull, a Kalashnikov or with symbols of heraldry. Further, the artist does not shy away from combining into one work the language of comic strip culture and that of ethnography or aspects of different high and low cultures from different time periods and geographical areas. His work therefore acquires the appearance of a bizarre synthesis.
The allure of the work is due in part to the fact that the various materials with which his objects are made have been processed with great care. Van Bentem looks for the best workplaces in the world where this can be done in the traditional manner with the associated know-how and skills. After he has designed his objects and shapes, he has them executed by professionals in these artisanal workshops. He goes to the Czech Republic for the crystal, the wood is processed in Senegal and the bronze is cast in India. The porcelain is manufactured in China and his ceramics are created in the Netherlands. By choosing to work in this manner, Van Bentem also shows his eclecticism.

In the public space as well as in art locations and interiors, the artist wants his creations to exist, with which he wants to engage as large an audience as possible.