Idle thoughts for idle men
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'Idle thoughts for idle men' by the Dutch artist Henk Visch reveals a human figure with a spinning top on his head. The figure is dressed in blankets which are used to transport fragile goods. The plaster face has not been developed: there are no eyes, nose, mouth, etc.
Visch’s sculptures are very diverse as regards their appearance. They can be abstract or figurative, made of hard or soft, strong or fragile materials. They can be made of existing products or develop as an entirely new form. In addition, there are all sorts of possible combinations. Balance often plays an important role in Visch’s work. His images mainly develop intuitively. They are a combination of things he has found, memories and ideas. In this respect, Visch’s work is related to Surrealism. The sculptures are like dream images arising from the subconscious. They are poetic and unsettling, but there is also a meditative silence around them. He said: “I hope that my work will be a reason to examine what you are about, what you are interested in”.
Despite the extremely summary references to parts of the body, this sculpture can still be immediately recognized as a human figure. The way in which the blankets are draped evokes associations with a classical statue, but the grey material, in combination with the “empty” face, is also reminiscent of a beggar or a leper. The veiled figure with the head slightly looking up – in order to keep the top in balance – can also evoke the image of a devout believer in a state of ecstasy. Everyone will have their own associations, but the meaning of this will not be unambiguous for anyone. Titles can put the viewer onto a track, sometimes a very different track from the actual sculpture. The title 'Idle thoughts for idle men' suggests that the spinning top on the head could be a top in the head, a figure whose thoughts whirl round: an empty-headed or confused person, or a poet. Or is he actually keeping everything in balance?
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