Persona June, 6th 2024 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 469 - Hans Ensink op Kemna Revisited

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 469 – Hans Ensink op Kemna Revisited
About seven years ago I interviewed Hans Ensink op Kemna about his work following an exhibition in Galerie 44 and the Schuilkerk in the Juffrouw Idastraat. I saw his new work in a recent exhibition at the Hague Art Circle entitled ‘In Between’.
In the showcase at the entrance I saw small works, gouaches on paper with freer shapes, and in the long room large works, partly reminiscent of the work I knew, but largely new, round and wavy shapes.

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Geometric form language
Ensink on Kemna’s work is abstract, non-figurative. He uses a geometry-based form language such as lines, rectangles, squares and circles. “A geometry-based image is a powerful image: clear, simple and uncluttered,” he said earlier. To which he added: “That behind the reality of the image another reality can be suspected. In my work I am looking for the tension between the subjective experience of the work compared to its formal aspects. What fascinates me is to arrive at a self-contained thing in a more or less rational way, in which the indefinable continues to play its role.”

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In 2021, Ensink and several others had the ES MALT exhibition at ‘Ruimtevaart’. In it he showed a large pointed triangular work, it looked like a dip pen. This work also hung in the Hague Art Circle. Hans: “The series is called ‘Incisions’. Instead of an under drawing, a drawing on the base layer of a painting, an artist like Caravaggio used a sharp knife. The shape was thus recorded in the grounding of the painting. This made it possible to define the final shapes extra sharply in relation to each other. For the series “Incisions” I was looking for a space that would contrast strongly with the work, and a ruin seemed most suitable for this.”

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The White Cube under pressure
Hans: “The ‘White Cube’ was under pressure. Over the course of the 20th century – via Bauhaus and De Stijl – the White Cube had become leading in terms of how an exhibition should be arranged. The room had to be square or right-angled in shape, with sleek white walls and light from the ceiling. There was a tendency in the 1990s to look for other places to show art and paintings. My search eventually brought me to Huize Zonnestraal in Hilversum, a modernist building, originally intended for diamond cutters who had contracted tuberculosis. Now it has been completely renovated, but then it was a ruin. Unfortunately, my request to exhibit at that location was rejected. In my search for a suitable ruin I came across the Preservation of Valuable Heritage Foundation, in The Hague, founded in 1992 by Simon Kamper. The aim of the foundation was to acquire properties that had been neglected, whereby the new owner was obliged to invest in the property. Several buildings on the Lange Beestenmarkt have been preserved in this way.” Ultimately, ‘Incisions’ took place in one of those buildings.

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Continuing on older works
He often brings up works from his past again to continue with them. These works were the basis for the works that were on display in the Hague Art Circle, he says. “I came across designs from 1992. Including the watercolors in the display case at the entrance. “I can continue with this,” I thought. “I needed more openness and rounder shapes in my work. Friendlier and more feminine. Just like in my Academy days. In those days you could do anything. I found that reflected in this.”
He made quite small work because he did not have a studio for a while. “Working with oil paint is a slow process, it takes a while before it dries. While you are working on one piece, you get ten other ideas. I wrote down many of those ideas.” He shows it, a small notepad with a lot of designs. They arose from looking at the painting and waiting. He implemented the ideas in a country house in the east of the country. It resulted in gouaches measuring 20 by 30 cm. He also exhibited it. A need arose to work on a larger format. A size that matched the image.

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The coherence in the work
He made all the works that were on display in the Hague Art Circle in his house/studio on Gerard Doustraat. There he did not have the opportunity to distance himself from the work, to take a number of steps back, in order to properly assess the work in progress. “When they hung in the Hague Art Circle, I saw them from a distance for the first time, and then I also saw the connection. All works have the same starting point, but the elaboration went in many directions. I’ve had a lot of good responses. It calmed people down, they said.”
The geometric approach is still his guiding principle. “A fixed procedure. It starts with a grid. There is a pattern over this that appears in every painting. The pattern remains visible, but is no longer leading. Something has taken its place: nature and chance. That’s what I’ve always looked for. Over time I have gained more freedom.”

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Does Hans have a key work?
He shows a painting, medium format. A work in green with many circles. A number of circles – in brown color – become three-dimensional objects. But when a work is finished, it’s done, he says. “It is an end point of an entire process.” Where the term key work is more applicable, however, is with his drawings. “It has its roots in what I see. I will record that.” He shows a small notebook full of designs. “I have about forty of these types of booklets. I’m browsing through that. Later I make a drawing of the same drawing, something changes. It’s amazing that you are still inspired by the original drawing!”

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How long has he been an artist?
He graduated from the AKI in Enschede in 1986. He went to that Academy at a later age. He has been an artist for almost 40 years. “I ended up in The Hague because my girlfriend got a job there. Students of all nationalities walked around the AKI. There were also interesting teachers. Like Sigurður Guðmundsson and teachers who sympathized with/or were part of the Fluxus movement, Willem de Ridder visited regularly. Alphons Freijmuth also taught. People from the Living Room in Amsterdam came by and students/graduates were given exhibitions there.”

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What is his experience with the art life?
He regularly has exhibitions. Because he did not graduate from the Royal Academy, he did not have many inputs and contacts, but he now has more than enough. He now sits on the board of the Hague Art Circle, and is also involved in the balloting of new members. “Most of the artists of the Kunstkring have been there for a long time. New growth is important. The exhibitions last four weeks. This means that every now and then a week becomes available. This provides an opportunity for an exhibition for people who have just graduated, people who make installations, etc. But unfortunately I have to conclude that young people do not stick around. Young people create their own spaces, seek out more peers and join other initiatives. That is a natural process. Just as it is a natural process that I ended up at the Art Circle.”

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Finally, what is his philosophy?
“What the Hague art circle does is very nice. There is not only visual art, but also literature, music, theater. All kinds of disciplines. This provides the opportunity to gain inspiration. The important thing is that it lasts. Because younger artists also get older and then there is this place.”

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