From an interview with Jeré Möller of ‘Visit Overberg‘
Herman van Bon – An artist unleashed
Sitting down to chat with fine art photographer Herman van Bon is a bit like jumping on a magic carpet. A few seconds in and you are time traveling to visit the ancestors. Minutes later you are standing with him at the very edge of space, pondering heaven, hell and the wild beauty of it all. Herman is a well of stories, a maze of great questions and a master of his craft.
You have been described as quirky, complex, playful and very creative. So here is my first question. In your own words, who is Herman van Bon?
Well, I think I am an adult who kept my childhood imagination alive. I have a very wide field of interests and I do love to have fun with photography. I was born between the dykes of Holland and worked as a photojournalist on the technical side of things for many years. It took me through the whole wide world. About 17 years ago my wife Yvonne and I moved to South Africa to find space and breathe fresh air. We settled in the Overberg and love living here.
Someone said you are the Hieronymous Bosch of the digital era. How would you describe your work and style?
I like to photograph landscapes especially during early mornings, in the golden hour. But taking a picture is just the beginning as I enjoy playing with it. I explore and just let it flow to see where it might go. It can take weeks to come together and the end result can be landscapes, haikus, photographic mixed media and imaginary photography next to abstract and portrait photography.
Something that is regularly reflected in my work is my interest in the universal archetypes imbedded in our ancient human heritage. I find it interesting how they are awakened through the associations we sometimes make when looking at images. I also find the interaction between light and dark, good and evil fascinating. Especially subject matter that touches beyond religion and the best way I can explain this is through a quote from Albert Einstein,
“The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the centre of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the rank of devoutly religious men.”
Herman so if we get down to it, what really inspire you?
Simply put, beauty. You know beauty can be in the small details of an even ugly looking subject. And the fact that some rules are there to be broken.
You mentioned settling in the Overberg about 17 years ago. Do you have any favourite places that you enjoy shooting at?
Yes definitely, the rolling hills and changing skies of the Overberg is a joy to any landscape photographer. I have many spots that I enjoy shooting, but let me highlight three for you:
– Napier and the town’s surroundings are stunning during Springtime and Autumn, just after the harvest. The Schietpad is especially amazing, you can get lost in there!
– Near Barrydale, the Warmwaterberg is beautiful. Stunning mountain views. Definitely a favourite.
– Elgin Valley is a magical place. I recommend taking a good hike up and the best time is during August.
Last question Herman. Where do you and Yvonne go to unwind here in your home town Napier?
Have to say we are still relatively new in Napier. It’s been just about a year and I can tell you, this is a town with a lot to discover. It’s difficult to mention just one place. We enjoy visiting Napier Farmstall, The Fox Pub for lunch, Pascal’s for dinner and for the best pizza in the Overberg, The Suntouched Inn.
Visit, view and buy some of his work here: Private Gallery Napier
Below: ‘He’s back’. Since last Monday 258 likes on Instagram @hermanvanbon
Every year there is this art festival in Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa. Plenty of sculptures along the Cliff Path but not this year. It’s a meager outdoor exhibition but the few sculptures I saw are interesting. The event, including some concerts, workshops, etc. started last Thursday and ends this Sunday 18 June.
More worthwhile is to visit the different art galleries. Their level has gone up significantly in the past few years and some of them can match themselves with the best in South Africa and abroad. There are 11 of them (if I’m not mistaken) and all within walking distance. Four artists from my village have work on display in Van Rossouw Frans Mulder), Originals (Ulrich Riek), Hermanus Gallery (Yvonne de Wit) and Walker Bay Gallery (me).
Here a few images of the outdoor event.
Somebody told me the other day that the average painter applies 6 to 7 layers before a painting is finished. I just applied the 75th layer to ‘Unus Mundus’ (One World) and still it’s far from ready. Layers, in my case, are photographs, drawings, textures, digital in-paintings, etc.
Guess I have another 30 to 40 layers to go. Plus some patching here and there.
The imaginary will be printed and framed in the size 180x120cm for a permanent exhibition (until sold) in one of the better art galleries in the Western Cape, South Africa. And there will be only one print available for their clients appreciate (and pay for, I hope 😉 ) exclusivity.
How does my layering work? In the past I already made a youtube with a very simplified example. See: The Meta Selfie