Henk van Putten

Artist
Auroville, India

It is said, especially in constructive art, that "less is more". The ideal would be a simple, strong, shape, well made and of interesting construction. For the past forty years I have been trying to make such work.

Basically, I look for new and interesting ways to arrange the all-time basic geometrical forms, notably the circle and circle-elements. By manipulating these given elements in a certain way, surprising and interesting new shapes can be created.

For a number of elements to fit nicely together, all the elements should have planes of similar form and size. For instance, if the circle elements were cut from a ring with a rectangular cross section, it is only possible to fit two elements together in two ways: continuing the circle, or, by turning one of the elements a half-turn, reversing the circle form. But by using a square cross section, one can join them in 4 ways: a quarter turn will also make them fit.

Borsalino
24x50x50 cm
coated plywood
2013

An example is the "Borsalino" shape; this picture shows it in lacquered plywood. It is an assemblage of nine pieces, six eighth part circles and three half circles. Glueing the nine pieces together results in a smooth shape, pleasing to the eye. By using all kinds of materials I try to make the work more interesting for myself: I made the borsalino in granite, bronze, aluminum and stainless steel, the size varying from 12cm to 2m.

The Borsalino shape uses one more way of fitting pieces together which I in fact discovered during its design: under certain conditions it is possible to fit two elements together on the 'sides' of the circle elements (instead of on the cross-section), with one element 'reversed' with respect to the other. This only works with the right proportions: if the ring has a square cross section of 1x1, then the radius of the outer circle should be 1.707. Since the discovery of this optimal fitting element, I use these proportions always in my new works.

Open Lotus
33x57x57 cm
Stainless steel rod 6mm, welded
2005

"Open Lotus" is made from stainless steel rods, which were first welded together to form 6 separate elements: quarters of a 'slice' of 1 unit thickness from a cylinder with a diameter of 2 units. Thus the cross-section of the elements is a square of 1x1 unit. These 6 elements were then

welded together, to make up the shape which I named 'Lotus' because, seen from above, it kind of looks like an open flower; although this is much more clearly visible in the solid versions of this shape. I am always torn between the whish to make the sculpture transparent so that the construction can be clearly seen and the whish to make the form look simple and 3-dimensional. Hélas, these wishes seem to be somewhat contradictory, so I am never completely satisfied with what I produce. This version looks rather complicated; not "less" but "more"! The observer has to make an effort to discover the essence of the construction. It does however clearly show the ‘plan’ underlying the work.

Interaction nr 2
15x15x15 cm
Solid aluminum
2012

One could conceive of this work as being made from a slice of a cylinder, 5 units in diameter, the thickness of the slice being, of course, 1 unit. Then a hole is made in the middle, 1 unit in diameter. Then a larger circle is cut out, 3 units in diameter. Now we have 2 rings, each with a square cross-section of 1x1 unit. These are cut in half, so we have 4 half-circles. The photograph shows how these are glued together to make this form, which I named 'Interaction' since the form escapes and then kind of reverts back on itself. (Obviously, I did not really use the 'construction method' as described above, if only because the width of the saw slot would spoil everything.) I think this form is less 'solid' than the Borsalino and clearly shows the 'idea', but on the other hand it is not as 'complicated' and more spatial than the Open Lotus.

The sculpture depicted here, by the way, has an outer diameter of 15cm, but I dream of seeing it in a park at least 3m high.