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Matter of Belief

Exhibition  /  01 Sep 2007  -  11 Oct 2007
Published: 17.09.2007
Galerie Louise Smit
Management:
Louise Smit
Bas Bouman. Necklace: Protector, 2007. Oak, nails. ø 23 cm. From the collection 'Matter of Belief' 
. (photo by Francis Willemstijn). Bas Bouman
Necklace: Protector, 2007
Oak, nails
ø 23 cm
From the collection 'Matter of Belief'
(photo by Francis Willemstijn)
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
His new collection of ornaments radiates the same joy in the making. This time his amazement is roused by wood, a material people have ascribed all sorts of meanings to, varying from deep religious conviction to amusing superstition.
It is amazement that drives him Amazement about people's capacity to protect and shield themselves against dangers and seek comfort in their life by believing in something, or someone. Bas Bouman has examined various kinds of rituals and other exorcising actions. He wanted to know whether it is a shortcoming of man to ascribe the inexplicable to a higher power, or if this actually is a sign of mental strength to influence one's own well being. Which strategies have people developed in order to reassure themselves, to ease their minds and be able to cope with life every single day? Why do they believe, have faith, and what actually is the difference between belief or faith and superstition? In addition, questions characteristic of a designer. With what symbols do people live? What meanings have they assigned to materials?

Bas Bouman has chosen the jewel or ornament as a vehicle to visualize this amazement, and understandably so. The ornament is rooted in mankind's primal impulse to adorn itself, demonstrating and communicating the meaning of its existence to its environment. It is the oldest language we know and the questions Bouman raises are equally as fundamental.

For his first jewelry collection, on display in the autumn of 2005 at Gallery Louise Smit, he had gone to the local supermarket, hunting for food as a contemporary city dweller. This survival strategy had left him with trophies such as marrowbones, cherry pips and mussel shells. With these, and together with natural fibers as sisal and bamboo, he made a beautifully coherent collection of neck ornaments. Because of the careful arrangement and meticulous treatment of all these different materials, this collection can be seen as an homage to the animals and the products of nature that feed us.

His new collection of ornaments radiates the same joy in the making. This time his amazement is roused by wood, a material people have ascribed all sorts of meanings to, varying from deep religious conviction to amusing superstition. The wood of Christ's cross. The oak as holy tree of the Teutons and the Celts. The tree as symbol of paradise in Islam. And, the unpainted wood people knock on to ward off evil. What is the difference between these things if you believe in them yourself. The essence of belief or faith is that, it is a much-used way of coping with the uncertainties in life awaiting every human being. Like many in the medical profession, autosuggestion, or the placebo effect, fascinates Bas Bouman. Is it all about what you believe in, not whether this is the hard truth?

As different as the symbolism may be of various religious beliefs in various times, a number of constants remain. Wood, for instance, and the comforting repetition of saying an incantation, an invocation, a prayer, or of expressing a desire. That is why a rosary is an essential piece in this new collection, composed of beads constructed from inter-crossing lines in wood. He has made more prayer beads, based upon faiths and religious ideologies other than Christianity. The cross also recurs as an independent form in a couple of ornaments, and there is a deer's foot - a good-luck charm for those who believe in it. A dozen old nails possessing a protective effect for several African tribes form the central part of a neck ornament. Numbers are important to Bouman. As soon as you start focusing on meanings in religions, numbers take on meanings too.

In this new collection, Bas Bouman touches upon a number of important, if not the most important, questions of this age. There is a lot that will appeal to the cognizant in this series of neck ornaments in which earth colors predominate, and visual messages do not impose themselves. So it is quite easy to leave all the messages in the work for what they are - a way for the artist to make certain statements - and to see the ornaments just as beautiful ornaments. They offer visual pleasure enough. But then, it is only fair to consider what every one who wears jewelry does consciously, or unconsciously. You touch a jewel or an ornament when you think of the person who gave it to you. When something reminds you of the reason why you are wearing it that day. When you want something familiar to support you in an unexpected situation. 'Knock on wood.' Exactly, Bas Bouman has put into his jewelry the human factor.

Marjan Unger 

Bas Bouman. Necklace: Crossed, 2007. Oak, brass. ø 42 cm. From the collection 'Matter of Belief' 
. (photo by Francis Willemstijn). Bas Bouman
Necklace: Crossed, 2007
Oak, brass
ø 42 cm
From the collection 'Matter of Belief'
(photo by Francis Willemstijn)
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Bas Bouman. Necklace: Ashes to ashes, 2007. Oak, bone, titanium. ? 33,5 cm. From the collection 'Matter of Belief' 
. (photo by Francis Willemstijn). Bas Bouman
Necklace: Ashes to ashes, 2007
Oak, bone, titanium
? 33,5 cm
From the collection 'Matter of Belief'
(photo by Francis Willemstijn)
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Bas Bouman. Necklace: Clovary (Praying for Goodluck), 2007. Greenheart, oak, brass. ø 28 cm. From the collection 'Matter of Belief' 
. (photo by Francis Willemstijn). Bas Bouman
Necklace: Clovary (Praying for Goodluck), 2007
Greenheart, oak, brass
ø 28 cm
From the collection 'Matter of Belief'
(photo by Francis Willemstijn)
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Bas Bouman. Necklace: Nothing remains, nothing perishes, 2007. Ebony, red cabbage bark, brass. ø 29,5 cm. From the collection 'Matter of Belief' 
. (photo by Francis Willemstijn). Bas Bouman
Necklace: Nothing remains, nothing perishes, 2007
Ebony, red cabbage bark, brass
ø 29,5 cm
From the collection 'Matter of Belief'
(photo by Francis Willemstijn)
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Bas Bouman. Necklace: Rosary, 2007. Oak, iron. ø 24 cm. From the collection 'Matter of Belief' 
. (photo by Francis Willemstijn). Bas Bouman
Necklace: Rosary, 2007
Oak, iron
ø 24 cm
From the collection 'Matter of Belief'
(photo by Francis Willemstijn)
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
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