Dutch sculptor finds the ideas for his works on the beach, in the dunes, or in the forest
Jan van der Laan is a sculptor from the Netherlands and creates organic forms that reminded us of a coiled snake, grasses in the wind, or vines in the trees. The first of our questions by mail was therefore aimed at where he finds these forms, if perhaps he walks through a botanical garden or a park and brings the ideas from there. His answer was surprising, but we could have known: “I live at the coast and walk through the tide lines on the beach every day. Here I find all kinds of extraordinary forms, such as different types of shells, seaweeds, weathered pieces of wood and also patterns of water and wind in the sand, waving rhythmically, meandering or just geometric. Also when I walk through the dunes and forest nearby I’m surrounded by natural forms. Petioles, seeds, flowers, tree stumps, unfolding leaves, and bark. You can see it all being reflected in my sculptures.“
The beauty of form is at the center of his work. On his webpage he lets a sculptor colleague express it as follows: “Jan van der Laan’s art is a unique synthesis between natural, organic forms and geometric abstraction.“
In his mail he writes of the contrast between nature and geometry: “I love the vibrant dynamics of organic lines and the peace and order of the geometric form language and symmetry.“
What’s more: “If all form elements are in balance with each other, a sensation and experience of harmony and beauty arises. If we are open to it, it remembers us to the perfect harmony of the creation itself which we are all part of. It’s a reminder of our divine descent.”
But he does not want to be dependent on it, so he also makes works in bronze and other materials. “That gives me a sensation of freedom.“
What prompted him to become a sculptor? “My great grandfather was a sculptor by profession. Yet I never knew him. In my family line I see much fine craftsmanship such as cabinet maker, dental technician and such crafts. In my younger years I drew a lot.“
It was only at the age of 40 that he found his way into sculpture. This through the Dutch sculptor Mark Rietmeijer, who taught him the know-how. “The focus and concentration and the repeating movements of carving, grating, grinding and polishing brings me to a meditative state of inner peace and creativity. It opens the gate to the most holy. In that sense sculpting for me is a spiritual deed.“
His works are usually no more than 1 m high. But if a customer wants, he also makes large pieces. During our mail contact it becomes clear that he attaches great importance to the fact that the customer will be happy with the work when commissioned.
Together with his wife Irene, who works as a psychosynthesis therapist, he founded Studio Daguz before the pandemic, a center for, shall we say, the more that can be found in sculpture. “Retreats“ is what the two call their courses. “During these retreats it is all about the discovery within stone and your inner self.“
“If for example you have difficulty with making decisions in your daily life, you will also experience this with sculpting, where every slash of a hammer is in fact a decision with irreversible result.“
In the dialogue with the stone, the participants would then find themselves.
Photos: Jan van der Laan