Hansa (Hans Versteeg)
Le Petit Prince ou l’Apprenti Sorcier, oil on canvas, 100 cm x 150 cm, 2021
Omen, oil on canvas, 100 cm x 150 cm, 2021
Ophelia, oil on canvas, 74 cm x 110 cm, 2020
Pietà della Nostra Terra, oil on canvas, 125 cm x 125 cm, 2019
The Abduction of Europe, oil on canvas, 100 cm x 150 cm, 2018-2019
The Girl with a Fake Pearl, oil on canvas, 46.5 cm x 40 cm, 2018
Madonna del Mare Nostrum (Or, Cloak of Love), oil on canvas, 125 cm x 125 cm, 2017
The Tiding II, oil on canvas, 80 cm x 60 cm, 2014
Editor’s Note: The image featured on the main Artist Watch page is So Sorry, oil on canvas, 80 cm x 60 cm, 2014.
Oil painting is, for me, like a revelation, a means to create an intimate and perfect balance between the emotional and the rational, to think through emotion.
I first realized the possibilities and power of the medium when, at the invitation of curator Guus van den Hout, I created for the biennial religious exhibition “Art in the Holy Triangle” (2017) what eventually became the iconic painting Madonna del Mare Nostrum or, Cloak of Love [see image above]. Much to my surprise, even shock, this painting, which later was displayed in Bethel Church in The Hague during the “Children’s Pardon” campaign, received publicity well beyond my country’s borders, marking for me a turning point as an artist.
From the beginning, the Madonna not only made a profound emotional impression, deeply moving its viewers; it also, I came to realize, had a social impact, leading those who saw it to rethink their views, to adopt a more nuanced perspective on or change their opinions about such current issues as immigrants and refugees. I realized paintings can change minds. As a result, I now consciously and deliberately seek to raise awareness by representing in my paintings an idea, a point of view, an emotion, or a social problem in which my own or society’s collective past is symbolized in myth.
I no longer consider myself to be a super-realist painter whose aim is to be a technical perfectionist or a stylistic virtuoso. Instead, I prefer now to portray myself as a “compassionist,” one who artistically can express in all his work the vulnerability of humanity and the destiny of the world.
About the Artist
Dutch painter Hansa (Hans Versteeg) combined his art academy education at Academy HKU Utrecht (Utrecht School of the Arts) with studies at the Grafisch Lyceum Utrecht, a school specializing in media, design, and communication training and emphasizing the technical and aesthetic principles of the Bauhaus, a German art movement of the 1920s.
After studying with such teachers as Simon Levie, a former director of the Rijksmuseum, and Ata Kando, a Dutch photographer, Hansa pursued a successful career as a graphic designer and, having rapidly developed a set of versatile artistic skills, he subsequently moved on to photography, and from that to oil painting, the medium in which he discovered his true gifts. Once he’d made his first oil painting and realized what he could do with oil paints — their possibilities, he has said, were a revelation to him — Hansa never again put aside his brushes.
Hansa’s “artistic voice is grafted in centuries of European artistic and spiritual tradition,” according to cultural historian, art curator, and writer Anikó Tóth. Yet, rather than paint representations of glass or satin, or beautiful still lifes and portraits, which reflect his masterful, perfected technique, Hansa challenges himself to visualize and portray realistically but unsentimentally, and wholly without detachment, the complex social, ethical, and political issues of our time, such as climate change and the environment, loneliness, refugees, and aggression. Moreover, he does so by painting contemporary materials — cellophane-wrapped flowers, mouth masks, refugees’ gold-colored foil blankets.
The artist, Tóth points out, “puts his talent, his artisanship, his convictions but most of all his heart into his work. He practices the art of living.” The “intimacy and truthfulness” of his paintings, she continues, “often open the channel for a heart to heart flow of communication with the viewer.” Not only do his paintings move viewers; on occasion, they even change people. His evident compassion, “in action[,] happens through painting. . . His antidote to fear and hatred in this world is love and attention conveyed through beauty. He inspires to question and interpret life anew.”
Although he began exhibiting decades ago as a photographer, Hansa showed photographs and paintings together for the first time in 2016, thereafter exhibiting only paintings. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including in various venues in The Netherlands, and has presented his work in the “Peace Week” (2018, Utrecht) and “Art Stations of the Cross” (2019, Amsterdam) exhibitions.
Hansa’s first solo exhibition of paintings was in 2020, at Bethel Church in The Hague. His next show is “Compassionism” at Galerie 44; it runs from April 16, 2021, to May 12, 2021.
Hansa resides in Amsterdam.
Hansa’s Book ‘Compassionism’
In a book of great importance to the artist, Hansa’s and Anikó Tóth’s Compassionism: Poetic Contemplations articulates Hansa’s philosophy about “compassionism” — a new “ism” manifest in Hansa’s “socially committed” visual art. The book, which first debuted in Amsterdam, features seven large artworks, as well as Tóth’s meditations or contemplations on the paintings. (A selection of images of paintings in the book can be found at https://hansaversteeg.com/books-and-limited-editions/.)
Compassionism is available through Galerie 44 (see contact information below). Its cover image, reproduced below, is Hansa’s now-famous and widely seen painting Madonna del Mare Nostrum.
Galerie 44 : Galerie firstname.lastname@example.org