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Henk Helmantel

  • 3 October 2020 till 5 September 2021
  • Drents Museum

Fans of Henk Helmantel's work will be able to revel in an exhibition that the Drents Museum is devoting to this leading artist. Henk Helmantel - Master Painter will focus on the artistry and craftsmanship of this painter from Drenthe’s neighbouring province Groningen from 3 October 2020 to 7 March 2021. Helmantel is nationally and internationally renowned for his masterfully painted still lifes and church interiors. Some 80 paintings by Helmantel will be on view in the Drents Museum’s large exhibition hall.

Henk Helmantel, 'The most Dutch Still life', 2019, oil on panel, 122 x 185 cm. Henk Helmantel Private collection. Photo: Art Revisited, Tolbert

Director Harry Tupan: ‘Because of the coronavirus pandemic we recently rescheduled our Frida Kahlo exhibition to the autumn of 2021. In the short time left to us, we had to come up with a new programme to fill the resulting empty slot in the period October 2020 to March 2021. The plan to organise a Henk Helmantel exhibition was already in place. His work has a strong connection with our holdings of contemporary figurative art. The Helmantel exhibition we mounted in 2004 was a great success and a sequel was on the cards. This exhibition is an opportunity to show not only known but also recent paintings by Helmantel and thus acquaint a new generation with his work.’

Known at home and abroad
Henk Helmantel (Westeremden, 1945) trained at the Minerva Art Academy in Groningen from 1961 to 1965. He belongs to the group of ‘Northern Figurative Painters’ and is regarded as one of the leading artists of the Contemporary Realism movement. His paintings are appreciated in the Netherlands and far beyond its borders. At home, Helmantel's work has been exhibited in the Singer Laren, the Rembrandthuis and Museum More, among other venues. Abroad, his paintings have been shown in the United States, Germany, England, Italy and France, Indonesia and most recently in Taiwan. Helmantel lives and works in Westeremden. His exhibition space 'De Weem' in the northern Groningen village of Weerdorp attracts thousands of visitors every year.

The beauty of the ordinary
Henk Helmantel (Westeremden, 1945) has been painting for 54 years and shows no sign of slowing down. He belongs to the group of Northern Figurative Painters and is regarded as one of the leading figures of the Dutch Contemporary Realism movement. At first sight, Henk Helmantel seems to render his subjects and interiors in strictly realistic terms. Upon closer scrutiny, however, one discerns a kind of eternal, higher value that can be found in everyday objects and subjects. Helmantel transforms 'ordinary' things into treasures and honours the beauty of the ordinary.

Special combination
Helmantel's work has a strong bond with the Drents Museum's collection of contemporary figurative art. Following the successful show devoted to the artist in 2004, the Drents Museum is once again organising a major Helmantel exhibition, this time with a selection of the best of his oeuvre, ranging from early to recent paintings, some of which have never been exhibited before. The special combination of his paintings with the objects – medieval wood sculptures, antique Chinese pottery and Roman glass – from Helmantel's personal collection depicted in them affords visitors greater insight into his artistry. The exhibition also features the short documentary Henk Helmantel - Driven by beauty, produced in collaboration with the Harms Rolde Collection. The exhibition was designed by Studio Berry Slok, Amsterdam. 

Experience Helmantel
Helmantel’s world is about inspiration and craftsmanship, light and dark, the rendering of texture, and stillness and spirituality. The experience of Helmantel's work is particularly valuable in these times of standing still, distance and contemplation. Henk Helmantel - Master Painter devotes special attention to the experience of Helmantel's work. As a visitor you can view the paintings in peace, sometimes even sitting down. You can engage on a deeper level with them thanks to various look-and-see tips and by listening to music from Helmantel’s studio with your own smartphone and headphones. You can also respond more actively and make your own drawing amidst these works of art. For families there is a free family route along all the works with look, do, think and play assignments.

Workshops and lectures
In addition to the free lectures on Thursdays and Sundays, there are special public activities at the exhibition. From 10 October 2020, for example, there will be a still-life sketching workshop on every second Saturday of the month. On 17 October 2020, an ensemble of the Noord Nederlands Orkest will perform music by Helmantel's great sources of inspiration: Bach, Sweelinck and Monteverdi. Harry Tupan, general director of the Drents Museum, will elaborate on Helmantel's style, his sources of inspiration as well as art criticism in his lecture on 14 November 2020. And Henk Helmantel will take you on a journey to the interiors of Gothic and Romanesque monasteries and churches in the Netherlands and abroad in his lecture on 16 January 2021. 


Henk Helmantel, 'View of the South Wall of the Church in Oldenzijl', 2019, oil on panel. Henk Helmantel Private collection. Photo: Art Revisited, Tolbert

Henk Helmantel, Still life with quinces and two bottles, 2019, oil on panel, 100 x 122 cm. Museum Helmantel Collection. Photograph: Art Revisited, Tolbert

Harms Rolde Collection is the main sponsor of the exhibition Henk Helmantel – Master Painter.