Henk Helmantel

Henk Helmantelm, still life and interiors in the Ducth masters tradition
Henk Helmantel is a contemporary Dutch painter who takes inspiration in the great Dutch masters of the 17th century.

Though he also paints landscapes and portraits, Helmantel’s emphasis in on still life — much in the tradition of Baroque Dutch still life in subject matter and technique — and interiors, frequently of Gothic churches in the tradition of masters like Pieter Saenredam and Emanuel de Witte.

While his respect for the masters is evident, Helmantel’s work is actually quite modern in his approach to light, color and composition. In particular, the way he works multiple colors of similar value into a surface or background is much more of a characteristic of 19th century painting than of 17th.

Unfortunately the images in the galleries of work on Helmantel’s own website are nonsensically small, particularly given the detailed finesse with which he paints and the relatively large size of many of his pieces. The site is in Dutch, but you can find the galleries under the navigation drop-down labeled “schilderijen”.

There are larger reproductions, which can in turn be clicked on for zoomable versions, on his Artsy page and on the Artsy page of the Swiss gallery Artvera, which hosted a show of Helmantel’s work in 2016.

I find myself drawn in Helmantel’s still life compositions to the play of light across multiple objects; there is often a kind of visual rhythm in the relationship between the highlights on the objects and the pools of darkest values in between them.


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