Hansup in The Tickle #47
Look up the dictionary definition of “paradox” in a year or two, and there’s a good chance you’ll find a single word: Hansup. By limiting all his work to 8 Tetris-like forms, he finds immense freedom. He turns to complexity to introduce a sense of calm. And he exists, to quote his own words, “somewhere between chaotic order and calculated intuition.” Many of Hansup’s NFT’s are based on texts, including the gorgeous monochrome series spawned from his cover design for a German translation of renowned 60’s Beat poet Steve Dalachinsky’s ‘The Veiled Doorway’. Hansup captures images of Dalachinsky’s words that turn them into concrete poems in their own right – sweeping, sculptural forms that recall organ pipes or even skyscrapers, while never losing contact with their textual origins. Lift the veil and step through the doorway with us.
1/ How did you get started making art, in a general sense?
The light probably went on when I was 3. It took another 17 years to make me quit my law studies and go to art school in Ghent, Belgium. Two magnificent years later I landed in Brussels to study art history. Another 4 years later and a text about Gerhard Richter, I became a full time artist starting from scratch in a new city and did get invited to many exhibitions for several years. Then it was 1999, a perfect time to make websites for a living. I could combine it pretty well with my artistic activities.
The computer became quickly my main tool. I learned to live independently as an outsider in the ‘analogue’ art world. With some luck and to my joyful surprise I featured even in an exhibition with work by Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol, Francis Alys, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, James Lee Byars, Blinky Palermo and many others. An unlikely combination of coincidence and a rather typically Belgian way of doing things.
In my online studio I have spent hours following and talking to several amazing digital artists that have influenced and insprired me continously. It’s such a joy to see them all reapppear on the new platforms. It’s quite exciting to see them clash and collaborate with the impressive new younger generation.
/ Why/how did you decide to start making NFT’s?
First I held off a bit. As a part-time UX designer the blockchain popped up several times. The book ‘Artist Re:Thinking the Blockchain’ was laying around on my desk as I tried to understand it a bit better. But I quickly realised that the only good way to do that, was to jump in. So then suddenly Hicetnunc appeared. A number of artist already active on HEN, made me create a wallet in April 2021. Just in time to experience first hand that (first) great explosion of NFT culture.
3/ Who/what are your artistic influences?
In art school I was so happy to finally be able to be fully engaged in art, that I could not be more open to any kind of ‘contemporary’ art. I also studied art history without any preconceived ideas about what should be good or bad art. The list of interesting art or artists grows everyday. But I guess I should mention one artist in particular. One day my drawing teacher gave me a catalogue of drawings by Gerhard Richter. His work became immediately a guiding reference. I only met him once very briefly and by accident, but you could say he’s my main teacher. There is of course an endless list of old Flash masters or early and new Processing wizzards I should mention. And then there is the enormous flow of new talents that I only now get to know better.
4/ What is your process/method for making art?
Almost everything I create since 2000 is made with no more than 8 Tetris-like basic forms. This deliberate restriction allows me to hover between chaotic order and calculated intuition. It all started with a rather silly name game for a typical web design and logo assignment. The result was a logo with the ‘hands up’ characters. Quickly I wrote several versions of my first algorithm in Flash or Processing to find out how many different characters I could produce with only 8 forms. Once I had the basic algorithms, I never stopped playing with it to generate many different outputs. Everything I create always lands on my aging website.
5/ What are you currently working on/what are your art plans for the future?
I take care of all my series on the different tezos platforms.
There are ongoing series like ‘Versatiles’ on Versum. Just like the 200 TXTILES on HEN/Teia, these are made by running a processing sketch while changing parameters by using a midi controller. The images are the result of simply moving words and sentences set in a custom font across the screen. It’s pretty addictive to do.
This year I hope to mint a new series (The Veiled Door) based on a text by the North American poet Steve Dalachinsky. In June, ‘James’, an 18-volume print based on the book 'Ulysses' by James Joyce will be exhibited in a library in Ostend, Belgium. With or without NFT’s, I will continue the way I was working before: create work and put it ‘out there’, online and/or offline.
What keeps me going is a flashback from a moment when I was 3 and discovered how to draw the human figure. Completely amazed I filled up every page of a drawing block with different variations and begged for a new block to continue. I even encouraged the children next to me to do the same: filling all the pages of all the drawing blocks with human figures. I guess I am still doing exactly just that.
6/ Please name some NFT artists that you admire, and a brief reason for each choice?
This is a tricky question, and for a moment I thought to name the platforms and the people behind the scenes that make it possible for so many wonderful artists to get their work out there. Still her’s a random list of 5:
@Kiszkiloszki Keesh-kee-losh-kee: Super sense of humour and beautiful executed silly tales of death.
@mandybrigwell Mandy Brigwell: a continuous, energetic, unstoppable flow of glitchy, generative, ‘stochastic’ art.
@dacosta_works André: Magic storytelling combined with a delicate way of blending ink with pixels.
@lennyjpg Leander Herzog: thoughtfull, minimal plays with the possibilities of the responsive canvas.
@kerimsafa Kerim Safa: A pure square pusher. Such an addictive joy to look at these scenes of hyperactive pixels.