Persona May, 20th 2021 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 315 - Hansa Versteeg


World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 315 – Hansa Versteeg
I saw beautiful paintings in Gallery 44 in the Molenstraat in The Hague. Among other things, a large painting of two men making an acrobatic double dive in a cloudy universe. All they wore was a face mask. And a painting depicting a young magician performing his juggling and balancing act in a circus-like environment with planets, sitting on the planet Jupiter.
I thought I was dealing with an artist from The Hague, but that was not the case. He lived in Amsterdam. He gladly invited me to tell more about the paintings and his artistic career.

hansa versteeg – 2

Atelier on the IJ
Hansa Versteeg turned out to live in a particularly beautiful place: on the wide IJ. His studio is located in the living room where a lot of outside light enters. Hansa Versteeg: “That light is further enhanced by the light reflected from the water. It is fantastic to work here.” There is a large painting in front of me of a woman with a child in her lap who was rescued from bombing. It is called ‘Pieta della Nostra Terra’.
Behind me is an even more special painting of a woman wrapped in foil with her child. It looks like a Madonna and it is, says Hansa Versteeg. “It’s called Madonna del Mare Nostrum or Mantle of Love. It is the key work in my oeuvre.”

hansa versteeg – 3

It was commissioned by Guus van den Hout, curator of the first Biennale Art in the Holy Triangle in Oosterhout, the Netherlands. Versteeg: “The painting has been conquering hearts since its presentation in 2017, in the chapel dedicated to the Holy Virgin in the Abbey of Our Lady. It made a deep impression and even changed the opinion of some people about refugees.”
Guus van den Hout commissioned him in 2016, but the project was postponed by a year. “In the meantime, I therefore visited additional Madonnas abroad. Especially Italy. First I focused on Tiepolo one of my heroes, because of the clouds and my canvases in the sky. Until I saw a picture of refugees with those golden rescue blankets. Then I changed the whole idea and knew I literally had gold in my hands. But I also knew it would take a lot of my capabilities.”

hansa versteeg – 4

Newspaper photo of boat refugees
At first he made sketches in the style of the famous Venetian painter Giambattista Tiepolo: a Madonna enthroned in the clouds. But a newspaper photo of boat people wrapped in gold-colored rescue blankets shocked him to the point that he decided to completely change the design.
“Because I am fascinated by the expression of the material in oil paint, this idea gave me the opportunity to excel at it: turning cheap gold-colored foil into a mantle suitable for a queen. My Surinamese neighbor helped me find models and the beautiful Imgracia posed a number of times, where I could drape the foil as I liked.”
Model Imgracia
Imgracia turned out to be a great source of inspiration, but the child never sat still. Fortunately, Versteeg eventually found the facial expression he was looking for. “I usually do a sketchy under painting, but because it is so complicated to realize the suggestion of gold, this time I did it in detail right away with a light sketch in charcoal as a guideline.
Once the right shoulder was satisfactorily completed, the rest just couldn’t go wrong. And when the robe was done, the faces just painted themselves.“
“The painting has great inner strength. It affects people deeply. At the first opening, there were already big guys with moist eyes. Some get tears in their eyes while others stare endlessly at the painting. It has a positive effect on the opinion people form about refugees.”

hansa versteeg – 5

Bethel church
The painting was hung in many places, including in the Bethel church in The Hague. A non-stop church service was held there for months to prevent the deportation of a family of refugees from the Netherlands. Among other things, 800 hours were prayed non-stop. The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times and a host of other national and international media outlets reported on the event. The Madonna went viral on Facebook.
Light and fabric expression
How would Versteeg describe his central theme? “The central theme in my work is ‘light’ and ‘fabric expression’. That is to say, that was it until the making of the Madonna.
Then everything changed. You can say the Madonna changed me too. My interest in textiles in general and in shiny fabrics in particular was brought up to me. My mother was a tailor and made a lot of wedding dresses. She unknowingly fueled my search for the perfect expression of material. I am mainly inspired by Gerard ter Borch and later increasingly by Vermeer. By studying these old masters my respect for the old traditional technique grows. This way of painting is addictive to me.

hansa versteeg – 6

The various exhibits of the Madonna made him think about the reasons for its impact. “It became increasingly clear to me that good art touches people, even enlightens them. That the artist has the power to achieve that. That you can make a small contribution to the formation of people, so to speak. When that realization dawned on me, I decided not to merely please, but to gently push people in a certain direction by means of aesthetics. In short, my paintings acquired a social significance.”
What remained the same was his interest in light and material expression. For example, a particular fabric could be the trigger to tackle a particular social problem.
“Since then I have been building an oeuvre with a variety of things that matter to me, and this has led to the realization that all those paintings had a common denominator. While talking to the art historians who are dear to me and who accompany me, a common denominator emerged in which all those motifs could be classified. And we gave it a name: Compassionism.”

hansa versteeg – 7

If he summarizes his oeuvre philosophically, it ends up with that: “Compassionism. Since Impressionism became a household name in 1874, a whole series of ‘isms’ have defined the avalanche of artistic styles. Artists no longer focused on meeting the demands of the elite or following academic conventions. They really got involved in an ever-changing society, interactive, challenging and visible in expressing their views and ideas.
They represented the nervous system, the barometer of human behavior and a powerful force in society. Ambivalence is also part of the system as their fame and prosperity depend on patronage. True neutrality does not exist, not even in art. ”
He added his to all that isms. “For decades, a destructive virus within capitalism has been undermining the core of Western society built on the idea of Caritas. Racism, inequality on many levels, divide the happy, prosperous few of the struggling masses. In itself this is not a new virus, but a virus that always seems to pop up when you thought it was already suppressed. ”

hansa versteeg – 8

Beauty in art
He continues, “Even in seemingly prosperous countries, more people have to fight to survive and fall victim to systems lacking empathy and understanding. At the same time, climate change and violation of nature require powerful solutions to preserve the quality of life of all creatures. And One of these artists who are at the basis of this new direction in art is myself. I use a realistic approach, technical perfection and a keen eye for harmonic composition as characteristic elements. True emotion is shown, never gooey sentimental, which almost unintentionally touches the viewer deeply. Compassionism focuses on the damaged heart, heals and comforts the seeking soul. Beauty in art is so much more than just superficial pleasure … it is the vaccine against a society in need! ” According to Guus van den Hout, art historian.
Inspiring teachers
Hansa Versteeg did his first study in Utrecht at Artibus (now HKU). He was 16/17 years old. After a year, he combined this with the aesthetic department of the Graphic School, which at that time underwent a strong quality improvement. At the Graphic School he had inspiring teachers, including Simon Levie, who later became director of the Rijksmuseum for Art History and photographers Aart Klein and Ata Kando for Photography, as well as inspiring fellow students, including photographer Ad van Denderen.

hansa versteeg – 9

Proost & Brandt
He came to work at the paper factory Proost & Brandt and worked there for the well-known ‘Proost Prikkels’. He came into contact with the fine fleur of Dutch designers and photographers. Later he entered Otto Treumann’s studio and worked there on various commissions. He worked independently for the Rijksmuseum and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, among others.
“My career is very old and at the same time very young. That is a matter of point of view. I have felt like an artist all my life, but I chose very early on during my training for a career as a designer / graphic designer. I make the distinction between a free and a bound artist.
I think the people who have had a great influence are important. Such as Henk Bellaard, a great watercolorist at the academy and Simon Levie, Aart Klein and Ata Kando at the Grafisch Lyceum. The latter ones became important again later in my career. ”
His artistic talents were always manifest, even though he didn’t start oil painting until his seventies, he says. “My career was focused on graphic design, where I gained a lot of experience in efficient and visually strong communication.”

hansa versteeg – 10

Switch to oil paint
During his career as a designer, his free work played an increasingly important role, initially in the form of photography. Unexpectedly, Hansa switched to oil painting as an art form for himself and others in 2010.
In a very short time he developed into a painter with a great talent for painting fabric expression and light, comparable to the masters of the 17th century.
Hansa prefers to paint with the help of a model and can spend a lot of time looking for a suitable face or figure. In addition to fabric as a starting point, a news image or an experience can also initiate a chain reaction for a new painting. He likes to challenge himself technically and by opting for complex subjects.
When he starts working on a theme, he systematically visits art collections and museums to study the work of, for example, van Eyck in Ghent, Martin Schongauer in Colmar, Raphael and Titian in Italy or Tiepolo in Würzburg. Each subsequent work of art is a challenge to gain in quality, complexity and effectiveness in craftsmanship and communication.
It takes two to three months to complete a painting. “I try to make four a year. Painting a work makes me contemplative. It gives me the space to already think about the following.” One thing is clear: the next work will have a subject that is socially urgent, depicted in Versteeg’s classic way.
1) Madonna del Mare Nostrum | Mantle of Love | 2017 (oil on linen 125 x 125 cm), 2) Le Petit Prince ou l’Apprenti Sorcier | 2021 (oil on linen 110 x 80 cm), 3) Omen | 2020/21 (oil on linen 100 x 150 cm), 4) Pietà della Nostra Terra | 2019 (oil on linen 125 x 125 cm), 5) Hansa Versteeg in his studio, 6) Come Fly With me, 7) The girl with a fake pearl | 2018 (oil on linen 46.5 x 40 cm), 8) In My Solitude | 2018 (oil on linen 110 x 74 cm), 9) The Abduction of Europe | 2018/19 (oil on linen 100 x 150 cm), 10) The Tiding II 2014 (oil on linen 80 x 60 cm.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest article are those of the author alone and do not represent those of the Marbella Marbella website. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with the author.


What did you think of this article?

The latest ideas for you to check out

The latest hits for you to check out