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Hendrik Frans Nicolaas Helmantel

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Dates Circa 2001
Medium Oil on board
Origin Netherlands
Description Hendrik Frans Nicolaas Helmantel

Still life of Ornamental Gourds in a tray (2001)

Oil on board

40.5cm x 57.5cm

Hendrik Frans Nicolaas Helmantel, known as Henk Helmantel was born 22 February 1945 in Westeremden to a religious Protestant family. He studied at the Minerva Academie in Groningen in the sixties. The artworks of Henk Helmantel are influenced by the seventeenth century pictorial art, especially by Rembrandt and Vermeer concerning their treatment of light; and also by later important artists like Floris Verster, Dick Ket and Mondriaan have been significant for the work of Helmantel. Yet Helmantel's work is surprisingly modern, with lean compositional dynamics, and an expressive brushwork that draws the viewer in. There, with one his big paintings filling your vision, something like love becomes evident. The fall of light on an object, the intimate colours present in the shadows, the intensity of reflected colour from a bit of fruit - these things excite him.

In his still life he often shows different kinds of objects and food on display on a table that crosses the canvas as a horizontal line. They are placed in a way that there arises a balanced composition of colours and shapes, while bright light comes in from the right. In the seventies Helmantel placed the objects concentrated next to each other. In the course of the eighties he spreads the objects horizontally across the painting and almost all of the works become landscape. Also the lighting changes gradually. It shifts from an even light that neutrally shines on the composition, to a clear distinction between light and dark that shows the division between the main and the side topics.

The objects in the still life are mostly old, used and sometimes even worn out. Despite the battered look of the object, the still life shows an image of beauty, peace and balance. Drawing from his religion the perception of beauty is important. Helmantel asks for attention and respect for the simple things that were also Gods creation. By painting the objects with much care, Helmantel lets them rise above everyday things.

The perceptions of beauty on which the still life of Helmantel focus is also being captured in the interiors of the Gothic and Romanic church, these spaces show modesty and serenity. Delicate colour use brings the architecture to life and the different sections and shapes together make the painting spatial.

For Helmantel the composition, line, colour and sections are more important for the pictorial art then the objects themselves. He searches for the mutual ties and the harmony between the different elements. He increasingly paints parts of the painting with a coarse brush or a palette knife, while assuming that the painting is finely painted. This way of painting offers him the possibility to work on bigger surfaces.

The artist first makes a sketch on a panel. After that the sketch will be quickly and thinly painted. In the second phase he uses more paint to give more meaning to colour, light and shadow. After that he will put a layer of glaze when needed to deepen the colour and the atmosphere. Sometimes it will even take a fourth treatment to optimize the right effect.

On October 31, 2008, Helmantel was named Artist of the year. In 2014, he was appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Helmantel’s works can be found in the Rembrandt house in Amsterdam, the Art Museum of Tainan in Taiwan, the Museum of Drenthe in Assen among others.

Together with his wife, Helmantel has built a large collection of art and antiques, including a number of works by Rembrandt, which is regularly shown on exhibitions.
Provenance English Private Collection