The first exhibition in the UK of the work of herman de vries occupied GroundWork gallery’s first spring season in 2017. herman de vries, then 85, is a grand figure in the world of art and environment, renowned for his sensitive attention to nature. This exhibition presented the artist’s assemblages of the world’s natural resources. Remarkably varied soil samples from the Seychelles Islands and the Jura Mountains become rubbed drawings, revealing the range of colours which are otherwise hidden beneath the undergrowth. A framed lapidarium on the wall transformed what began as a seemingly random collection of the world’s pebbles into a little display of wondrous order and variety. A floor installation of precisely cut stones from the Steigerwald became a museum for a landscape which has since disappeared, lost to development.
herman de vries trained originally as a biologist and his art creates a rigorous sense of order while at the same time reflecting a curiosity about every aspect of nature. The artist always wants his name spelt in lower case letters.
“These stones helped me find myself mentally”A young gallery visitor
In 2015, herman de vries was the artist representing the Netherlands in the national pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Since then he has exhibited in France, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, and continues with major exhibitions for 2017 at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon in Spain, at Ludwig Gallery Oberhausen, Labs Gallery Bologna. In spite of the artist’s growing fame, he retains a modesty which makes him adamant that his name should always be spelt in the lower case. www.hermandevries.org
herman de vries is a poet both with words and images. He began as a scientist and has retained some of the attitudes from that profession: an investigative attitude to the world, an attention to experiment and clarity of presentation. He was a member of the zero group in the 1960s, originally making pure white works with measured geometry and precision.