The following is a critical response to the work of Stefan Blom

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By artist Stanley Hermans

Stefan Blom oeuvre is not very easy to imbibe, let alone review. It is neither reassuring nor particularly comforting. There is no solace here. There is not a whole lot of prettiness, although there is considerable beauty of expression in his forthright and uncompromising clarity of vision .

Blom makes a point of not telling or showing his audience what he knows they did really like to hear. He thwarts the search for answers and promises no solutions or panaceas. In declining commenting on his works he takes no responsibility for how the work ought to be understood, suggesting instead that the viewer who chooses to engage is fully responsible for own responses. This does much to encourage the viewer to healthy self-assertion.

Humanity stripped bare is not necessarily humanity denied, and humanity in bondage is not necessarily about too little freedom. It is possible that his journey through his distortive re-inventions of the human form constitutes a search without reason, point, beginning or end, culminating always in further searching, within, without and between artist and viewer, public self and private self, self and other.

It is my feeling that rather than seek a confidence with the viewer Blom would prefer that the viewer construct a confidence with own self. We are exorted to claim our own issues as our own, as he claims his as his own. There is a kindness and generosity of spirit in this that will go over the heads of invulnerable viewers. Their loss.

It is certainly brave and courageous work, since it reflects upon the personal consequences of a time that many in this country, and the world, would much rather forget. Will the artist himself ever forget? Only future works will tell. Will the artist ever heal? Blom suggests that this may not be our problem or our concern, although we are invited to observe his journey as we are encouraged to explore our own different ways of forgetting, forgiving and healing, for and by ourselves.

Blom find a friendly and supportive context in the discourses of contemporary conceptual art that animate the world market. Here Blom deals with universal issues central to our ever dynamic, ever evolving and never static exploration of the human condition such as we live, celebrate or suffer it in our lives and times.

Finally, there is great inspiration to be found in the work of an artist who takes the fullest possible responsibility for himself and the events that have formed his life, in a country where culpability is denied before it is dealt with.

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