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Henk Helmantel

Henk Helmantel Henk Helmantel's still life paintings continue in the strong figurative tradition of the Netherlands. The quality of his observation and his accomplished technique invite comparison with the still lifes of the 17th-Century Dutch masters. They really are that good.

Yet Helmantel's work is surprisingly modern, with lean compositional dynamics, and an expressive brushwork that draws the viewer to security-guard-arousing closeness. 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.

But of course this gets him in trouble with the critics. After all, shouldn't an artist be working in a modern idiom with a modern, angst-ridden message? Why live in the past? Why 'just' copy things?

Perhaps they have a point, but if they do it is almost lost in their inability to appreciate the onder, richness and love of material that infuses Helmantel's work. Those that can see it are only too eager to join the waiting list for a painting of their own.