World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 31 – Els Botman

Els Botman is a Dutch visual artist. Currently she is working on the SUN Project, which will travel to the EuropArtVision Festival in Strasbourg at the end of November. The origin of this project goes back to Bolivia, where she lived for a number of years. There she was struck by the Bolivian light, a light that is high in contrast. High Key is the professional term. Light or bright tones predominate in a palette of white and black, with little gray.

Els Botman: ‘Very poetically, I went back to the basic essence. I took that very basic palette and made my own backgrounds. Then I arrived at the fresco-technique. This same Bolivian light brought me to my SUN-project.’ She has now been working on this concept for a year. So far Botman made over 300 pictures with suns in all colours , where the sun appears to vibrate with pure energy.


‘I started with the SUN Project in Slovenia. In my vision the light of the sun mirrors us. It brings us to another level of understanding of who we are – closer to our intuition, located at the heart.  And the heart is energy. That’s the essence of it.  The pictures I make are said to have the same effect as a Rothko painting, simple and powerful. When the images are projected together with the sounds of human breathing, as they are in the new installation ‘Relocation’ they effectively take people from the outside to their inside. ’

At the heart of the work of Els Botman is the belief that everything in the world is energy and that energy is constantly in flux. Botman: ‘If you realize this, then the world we perceive becomes much less defined.   When something vibrates, the world opens up to the viewer. You begin to see that everything is connected, but in a different way.

In this way we arrive at a kind of primal, harmonious collective consciousness, just as Mondrian pursued in his work. I want to bring people in contact with that energy, the essence that emanates from life in all its incarnations.’


Botman believes that once we perceive these vibrations, we can  clearly see and experience the essence of things.  ‘This essence is for me a key to connect, to find harmony. True love is a way of understanding. Unfortunately we tend to look at outward appearances. I search for the intangible form.’ 

She showed it already in her pictures of trees. The trees seem to move, to vibrate. There is a picture of a tree that is remarkably similar to a Mondrian painting. Botman: ‘This is a way in which you can really feel what a tree is. Artists like Mondrian and Rothko expressed this through abstraction. I’m not looking for beauty, not driven by aesthetics. Beauty may be the result of my work. By definition essence carries a certain degree of beauty along with it.’ 

More perspectives

Botman has a love / hate relationship with photography. She discovered her key quality early in her career when she was in Amsterdam at the Photo Academy.  ‘I wanted to find a way to visualize my experience with trees. I started to experiment heavily. I tried to break apart the conventional frozen image. 

David Hockney compiled a beautiful book in which he conducts research on the photographic medium. He shows that photos are actually a kind of inanimate representation of reality. I knew then that painting represents our experiences much more vividly.   

A camera has only one perspective. The human eye looks at everything continuously from a different perspective. You constantly see different perspectives simultaneously. Hockney has made beautiful photo collages of it. Picasso understood that Cubism basically does the same. It is a form of perception beyond “looking”, it is rather “seeing”.’  

Currently Els Botman works less with movement,  she will never make a static image. Everything vibrates. Therefore she will always search for ways to transmit these vibrations in her work. Whether it is through ‘painting with the camera’ or other techniques. Recently she expresses these vibrations more and more by using mixed media techniques and installations. : .  

Culture shock

In 2003 Botman started working as an artist. Pretty soon she had several exhibitions. In Theater De Vest Alkmaar, in the Melkweg Gallery, Gallery Arps & Co, then galleries in Paris and Denmark. ‘My work was a hit, it was selling. ‘

 As of 2006 she lived for three years in Bolivia, where she accompanied her husband who was called there to work as a diplomat. ‘That was such a different culture: it was a real culture shock.’  She had to let go the subject of trees. But she went on with her research info different visual languages that express the vibration, the essence of things.  


‘I developed a language that came close to stillness. ‘I started to photograph mountains, barren mountains. The mountains seemed to be made of light, I wanted to express their translucency in my photos.’   She also made a large four-part series of different elements in the city of La Paz titled Heterotopia that was exhibited at the Biennale of Bolivia. ‘Birds were included as well as people, cars and all kinds of small “trivial” things.’ 

A further investigation led her to take photos of birds, especially pigeons. ‘Birds are for me beings passing through  different dimensions. In my photos they have become angels, you only see wings in this photo series.  I took them in a square in La Paz, where there is that special Bolivian light. I photographed them with high contrasts, the background was completely white. This is how I captured the essence of those beautiful birds.’ Botman continued to work with this technique after moving to Berlin, where she also applied this to photographing trees. She then moved on to develop new projects, including the SUN project.  


The photos of the SUN project will soon go to Strasbourg where they will be displayed at the Arts Festival EuropArtVision. In collaboration with interior designer Eva Botman a large black box and a smaller white box or ‘light house’ were designed for the screening of the video installation ‘Relocation’ and the display of Sun images. Botman is in talks to show the SUN project at various agencies, companies and hospitals and also the High Tech Campus. 

‘Hospitals provide light therapy. This has a very positive effect on people. Philips is collaborating with hospitals on light therapy. The SUN project is the artistic aspect of light therapy.’ Last October 26, 2014, in Nuenen the preview of the Sun Project, Relocation took place.  It was a great success. The project was cause for much discussion , many people were able to unwind, so they said. They felt warmth seeing the video and the individual solar images. Botman: ‘I wonder how visitors will receive the SUN project in Strasbourg’   




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