News article De Stem (The Voice), The Magic of the creation out of clay

by Edine Wijnands Saturday 25th of April 2009 | Lastly updated on Sunday 26th of Arpil 2009| 08:12 Henk Groenhuis (on the right) working in his atelier with bronze watering man Jacques Valle.

ZUNDERT- His hands itched at the sight of Michelangelo’s David. If only he could have laid down those last few centimeters.

The skin. It made the statue more sensual. Literally more touchable.

At the time Henk Groenhuis heard much of this at the (art) academy, St. Joost in Breda. His statues have a skin that begs to be touched.

In his living room in Zundert Groenhuis stands up, picks up a piece of granite, lets me feel it, and sits back down. He asks, “Do you know my Little Goat in the Breda Torenpassage (Tower passage)?” Without waiting for an answer he continues: “We were sitting on the terrace and a little girl came along. When she approached the goat she stood still, grabbed the horns, and began to hug it.” Touchable.

Groenhuis turns seventy years old today. A birthday that the town of Zundert is celebrating by opening a retrospective exhibition of his work, open till September in the Vincent van Gogh house.

He began making art as a twelve year old, making Egyptian sculptures out of the gray leftovers of once colorful modeling clay sticks.

Egypt inspires him to this day. “The tranquility, the magical, the sculptures of which all unnecessary details are omitted.” He draws an imaginary hieroglyph of an eye. “Recently it’s been discovered that a light arc (?) means over morning, through afternoon and under night. Beautiful.” Serene. His Egyptian sculptures were discovered by a brother who convinced their father to allow young Henk to attend st. Joost. He was fifteen years old. He was taught sculpture by Jan Gladinnes and in 1959 won the st. Joost medal. This he turned into a small statue of a bull, a reference to Zeus and Europa. The Taurus, also his zodiac sign, recurs often in his work, as do other animals. The horse. One of these horses stood in front of the Bishop’s palace in Breda. It has since been stolen. A pig [from his hand] stands in het Ginneken. But also humans: the Flower Parade Girl of Zundert.

The artist does not have a particular style, that would be too limiting. “I’d rather speak of a signature.” For his sculptures and paintings are substantially recognizable as his work.

He loves to work, feeling an almost therapeutic effect from it. The hands that envelop the work, that invoke a form from it. It remains a magical process. Still.

As of recent he is trying to play more, upon recommendation of ceramicist Johan van Loon. Not so serious anymore. “The homo ludens, the playing human. I’m trying to leave more to chance.”An exciting and new process.

(translated by Siwa Versnel)

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