Abstraction and form collide and alternate in Louis Niënhuis’ work. The commonality in almost all of his work is the material the sculptures are made of wood. Niënhuis has now been working as a sculptor for over 35 years but did not initially choose this career path after his high school years.
His father had a company producing furniture in the Dutch region of the Achterhoek, where they mostly made bar stools. It was to be expected that Niënhuis would follow in his father’s footsteps. Instead, he incorporates the beechwood bars from his father’s workshop in his own work, in a way where abstraction and figuration are complementary to each other. “New sculptures arise out of mechanically formed ‘beech legs’ such as those my father uses to create bar stools. Cut into pieces, stacked and trimmed, I confront the mechanically adapted material with organically sculpted shapes.”
Niënhuis’ visual language seems to move as in growth rings. For example, an African plaster sculpture created just after his academy years in the eighties was followed by ‘In Between’ in 2012. One of the growth rings that expand Niënhuis’ body of work is his fascination with sound. Niënhuis collects the sounds of various types of wood when used as a percussion instrument. He has produced a cd with a collection of these finds.
Niënhuis is an artist who, most likely because of his technical background, finds true joy in the craftsmanship of his work. He does not fear to renew his visual language. Recently, he has been experimenting with small boards as the building blocks for sculptures. ‘De gewone man’ (The average man), consists entirely out of coloured boards connected by dowels. “From little blocks to little boards”, Niënhuis matter-of-factly calls this development.
Even though his new visual language will perhaps at one point be expanded with a new procedure or different forms, the wood will most likely remain a constant element. After all, the beauty of the work, of the artist who follows his fascinations without pretence, is beautifully depicted in the small abstract unemphatic shard-sketches in linden wood. Pure poetry in wood.
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