Henri van Bentum, 1929 - 2022

Date: Apr 25, 2022

Former Alberta artist, Henri van Bentum, passed away peacefully in Victoria at age 92. 

Immigrating from the Netherlands to Canada in 1957, Henri practiced in Alberta, Ontario, and B.C., as well as internationally. His work is included in more than 200 private and public collections, and he has had solo exhibitions in galleries in Paris, New York, Banff, Mexico City, Toronto and Montreal.

An obituary is published on the McCall Gardens website. Our condolences to his wife Natasha van Bentum, and his family and friends. 

About the artwork

The AFA has one artwork by Henri van Bentum in the AFA Art Collection: Spatial Rhythms (1982). This artwork is representative of a major transition in the artist's practice, as explained in his obituary:

While painting ‘en plein air’ at Moraine Lake, two faculty members of the Banff School of Fine Arts came upon him unexpectedly. When they saw what was on his easel, Henri was invited to attend the school’s summer session (which he didn’t know existed). Having no money, they waived the usual fees.

Ironically it was in the Rocky Mountains that Henri discovered he was a born abstract painter, and left representational art behind, never turning back. (...)

Later, back in the Rocky Mountains 1980-85 where [his wife] Natasha worked at The Banff Centre, Henri embarked on a new series in watercolour, “Spatial Rhythms” and gave a solo exhibition at the Peter Whyte Gallery.

In the AFA's 2020-25 Collection Development Plan, one of the selection criteria of artwork by artists assessed to be core to the collection, includes "strong example of the artist's work [...] reflecting the pinnacle of a transition or paradigm shift in an artist's oeuvre..." (page 11).

In this respect, Spatial Rhythms is a good example of how the AFA uses its collection to help tell the stories of the artists who have lived and practiced here, and contributed to the development of visual arts in Alberta. 

Image description

Five rows of pink, purple, lavendar and blue painted lines on a light pink background. While the lines on the top row are mostly vertical, the rows below include lines painted at different angles, giving the impression of movement or of falling.

AFA Virtual Museum