Hans Neleman (American, 1960) is a Dutch-born artist. Neleman studied fine art at Goldsmiths University in London, England. He holds a Bachelor degree in Film and Photography, and a Master of Arts from New York University.
Hans Neleman’s highly individual assemblages draw inspiration from taboos, morbid beauty and the transfiguration of found objects. Neleman focuses on the harmony of opposites as a fundamental part of his imagery, he juxtaposes the vital and the mortal, the myth and the modern tale. While referring at times to dark motifs, the work is also affectingly intriguing, endowed with erotic symbolism and infused with emotional qualities that we recognize immediately as inherent to the human condition. Deeply interested in semiotics and its related disciplines, and a master assembler and conjurer of images, associations and feelings, Neleman reclaims, scrutinizes, and skillfully melds styles, cultures, eras, and emotive states of being into extraordinary works of art. According to The National Book Review, his work invites comparison with the art of Beuys, Duchamp, Cornell, Schwitters and Rauschenberg.
Early in his career, Neleman was known as one of New York City’s leading edge still life art photographers and was highly regarded internationally in the commercial and advertising arena. His accolades include Kodak Photographer of the Year and American Photographer Magazine Photographer of the Year. In 2006 he was awarded the Hasselblad Master title and he is the recipient of the World Image Award for Still Life Photography. Neleman has published three books. Moko: Maori Tattoo (1999) was featured at the Biennale de Lyon, France, in 2000 and 2015. Body Politics, Maori Tattoo Today was exhibited in 2009 at The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. Silence (2000) a collection of his large-format still life work was first shown at the Visual Arts Museum, New York City. Night Chicas (2003) an exposé about prostitution in Guatemala, was launched with a one-man show at Ricco Maresca Gallery, New York City. Critic A. D. Coleman named Neleman, “A noteworthy addition to Susan Meiselas, Noboyushi Araki and others who have produced substantial bodies of work on sex workers.” Ken Johnson of The New York Times reviewed his work as “stunning, powerfully theatrical and visually lush.”
Hans Neleman’s illustrious career has spanned 30 years. His visual instincts, coupled with artistic sophistication, have produced a serious body of work that is part of many private and public collections, including the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Peabody Museum, Massachusetts, the Museum of Contemporary Art Lyon, France, the Saint Joseph Art Museum, Connecticut, the Housatonic Museum of Art, Connecticut, and the Norwalk Community College Art Collection, Connecticut. His solo shows include Art Projects International, New York City, Schneider Gallery, Chicago, Ricco Maresca Gallery, New York City and Anita Rogers Gallery, New York City.
In the last three years, Neleman’s artistic journey continued as he made a shift to painting and assemblage art. The transition of medium has resulted in the creation of exuberant mixed media works on canvas, wood, and aluminium signs. It ranges from two and three-dimensional work to installations. Neleman’s new artistic manifestations show his ability to create innovative original contemporary art based on years of artistic enquiry.
Renowned art advisor, collector and Whitney Museum patron Thea Westreich describes Neleman’s assemblage work as, “embedded with a unique and original vocabulary, from where abstract and intuitive visual narratives and associations flow with poetic rawness.”
Neleman’s assemblages inhabit the space between abstraction and representation. His “Portraits” are an amalgamation of elements pulled from disparate sources, masterfully re-appropriated, assembled with a sharp sense of sculpture, and combined with found images. These orchestrations become an engaging visual duel, between the perception of the actual objects, and the concept of the image created. This charges the work with unlimited metaphysical potential. His “Abstractions” are hand torn and cut paper and fabric, a raw merging of layered, jagged and expressive patterning, mounted and adhered to canvas, wood, or aluminium. Neleman further marks these collages with oil paint and oil crayons, creating and articulating a sensitivity of line and shape that is often charged with erotic intrigue and an appreciation of the male and female form. The surfaces have the capability to transcend materiality, yet are tactile and textural, treated and stained to create patinas that go through various stages and metamorphoses before reaching completion.
Enriching Neleman’s works are multiple layers: a rich personal history, a passion for travel and collecting, an understanding of psychological drama and visual tension, and an undeniable artistic refinement.