Henk Helmantel (b. Westeremden, 1945) is a Dutch realist painter. Trained in Fine Arts at the Minerva Academy in Groningen, Helmantel returned to Westeremden where he lives directly next to the Andreas Church, working and exhibiting at the nearby Museum de Weem.
In 1967 he acquired the property of the former vicarage with its farming grounds, the Weem. Upon accidentally unearthing the extensive medieval foundations of the original buildings, Helmantel in 1974 embarked on the reconstruction in all its facets of a semblance of this very Dutch type of pastoral vicarage. The task became an almost life-long obsession and in many ways defined his magnum oeuvre. The Weem was finally completed in 1985.
In 2008, Helmantel was named artist of the year in the Kunstenaar van het Jaar awards during Art Week. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in the US, Asia and Europe.
Artvera’s is pleased to announce Henk Helmantel: A Contemporary Old Master. The exhibition was opened to the public on Friday, October 16th 2015, and will continue through February 27th, 2016.
Exhibiting for the very first time in Switzerland, celebrated Dutch artist Henk Helmantel will be showcasing a series of exquisitely executed still lifes, intimate table and interior scenes of medieval churches and monasteries.
Part of Artvera’s programme is to introduce lesser-known contemporary artists to the city. The exhibition will shed light on the development of the artist’s career showing very early paintings from 1969 up until today.
Christianity is central to Helmantel’s daily life and work. He focuses primarily on Romanesque and Early Gothic architecture from Western Europe, citing Rembrandt as a main source of inspiration. Bringing a flavour of Dutch tradition to Geneva, the painter shows a proficiency and skill comparable to 17th Century Dutch masters.
Whilst the works feel familiar due to their traditional inspirations, they are also surprisingly modern; dynamic brush strokes and unusual compositions lend a level of intensity and modernity. Helmantel is praised for his stunning technique and his ability to create a dialogue between subject and light, and – unusually for a contemporary artist today – Helmantel’s openly deep Christian convictions are reflected in this use of light, achieving a still, motionless aura around his seemingly subliminal subjects.
The approach to his paintings, the composition, is abstract he says and considers his work as conceptual as it is created on the basis of a concept. It is classical in its light, form and colours, yet his approach is based on an abstract idea, typical for the 20th Century.
Helmantels work represents an interesting counterpoint to the mainstream tendencies of current art production. Dedicated to the grand Dutch tradition of subjects such as the “still lifes”, the spirituality in his works may confront with and bring up the question about what in fact is contemporary in contemporary art.
To highlight Helmantels sources of inspiration, the gallery will present a selection of works of Dutch Old Master paintings from Jacques de Claeuw, Jacob Foppens van Es, Hans van Sant, Willem Claeszoon Heda and Hubert van Ravesteyn.
With his unique combination of modern and traditional techniques, he receives much international attention, and Helmantel’s debut exhibition in Switzerland at Artvera’s Gallery is sure to engage viewers and collectors alike.