The other day i visited Hans Lemmen (1959) in his studio at Bilzen, in between Maastricht and Hasselt in the Belgian province of Limburg.
He lives and works there in a former so-called square farmhouse or court farmhouse, a traditional type of architecture found in Belgium, southern Dutch Limburg and Germany.
He restored the building and more or less rebuilt the barn, turning it into a studio with a mezzanine, in the mean time training himself in timber framing.
In the gently sloping rural landscape Lemmen seems to be completely in his element.
It is permeated with traces of human activity from the New Stone Age onward.
In this landscape he finds hand axes and parts of linear pottery, left there by men thousands of years ago.
In the mean time the soil has been cultivated, wars raged, the land was depleted by mining and intense farming, new buildings and roads were built along the ancient ones, and later on electricity pylons as well.
People and animals have left their marks.
Of course they still do, and one may find these traces back in Lemmen’s work as prints of his own feet and of his dogs.
To him these are not just traces or marks in the landscape, they are also the base of some of his works.
Indeed the landscape, the soil and the marks and traces in it are generally the base of making and as such of thinking and of the spirit of his work.
The landscape turns from material to spiritual where it becomes the background of imagination.
That imagination may turn into drawing, painting but also into sculpture.
Some of his works, both drawings and sculpture, may remind you of classical and other mythology and the relationship of man with nature and the landscape.
However, his works are not conceived in advance as conveying messages.
They are inspired by the materials themselves and are filled with content while working.
The materials themselves bring the ideas, as indeed the landscape and man’s environment does for the observant viewer.
We spent a good deal of time talking about art, how it is made, what its meaning can be, and how it is part of an artist’s life, while it was raining outside.
To me at least, it was an inspiring afternoon.
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© Villa Next Door 2022
Contents of all photographs courtesy to Hans Lemmen
For earlier studio visits see: https://villanextdoor2.wordpress.com/category/studio-visit/ and https://villanextdoor.wordpress.com/category/studio-visits/
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