As the first exhibition of 2023, Stigter Van Doesburg is proud to announce a duo exhibition with works by Bobbi Essers and Hans van der Ham. Both celebrate the human figure, Van der Ham through the lens of history, Essers from more nearby. Her own friends are dominant in her paintings – either fragmented or distorted – while the figures of Van der Ham are filtered by time and references. However, despite their difference in age and gender, they both share an intimacy in their paintings that only can be felt when you are in the shoes of your subject.
Hans van der Ham trained as a classical pianist at The Hague and Utrecht Conservatory (1984) and then went to art school in Rotterdam. Until 2018, he was represented by Nouvelles Images and in recent years he worked mainly as a curator. Among other things, he made exhibitions at Museum Boymans- van Beuningen and co-founded the Garage in Rotterdam. Lately, he has increasingly focused on painting. Human figures usually appear on his canvases. Figures sometimes reminiscent of tribal art, sometimes of Picasso or a 17th-century French portrait. In such a jumble of historical references, there is a danger of the works succumbing to this, but Van der Ham manages to avoid this through the stratification his paintings possess. At the same time, everything on the canvas becomes one; the thick oil paint, the communication between the figures and the facial expression on the faces of his protagonists.Cheerful it almost never becomes, it seems as if the figures do not know how to blend the space between them. That is up to the viewer.
Bobbi Essers, on the other hand, looks for it close to home. Unlike Van der Ham’s historical sense, her circle of friends is the subject of her paintings. She first takes photos during -as just about everyone does these days- their encounters and uses them as the basis for her works. Fragments are cropped or stretched, an arm appears instead of a leg. From a piece of sanitary napkin to the freckles on a shoulder, the extremely mundane is precisely what Essers finds worth being immortalised. Although immortalised; here stands a talent who has just graduated and is part of a generation where the here and now is more important than what once was or ever will be.
Woman, man, young or slightly older, painting is still a means of expression to show the condition humaine in all its facets. With Essers, being male/female is often overruled and gender is no longer an issue. In her view, gender or sexuality need not have a specific manifestation. With van der Ham, genitalia still determines gender, but there is no longer a power relationship. We are all human beings and we will have to make do with that.