A consistent, analogue approach to image and printmaking is what characterises Hans Bol’s photographic expression. He creates small, intimate, analogue, handmade prints. His work celebrates and refocuses on the beauty of analogue photography, a craft with which he has occupied himself for over 40 years.
Over these years he has specialised in black and white photography. Because of this specialism Bol has been the regular printer of the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam for more than 20 years. In that capacity, all the big names in Dutch photographic history went through his hands: Oorthuys, van der Elsken, Klein, Rotgans, Wessing, etc. The skills needed to thoroughly print the work of these photographers he obviously also uses when making his own work.
Hans Bol has often focused on photographing the landscape, in particular landscape affected by human activities. In that context he has recorded the quarries around Carrara (It.) for many years. Those landscapes are slowly, completely and irreversibly being destroyed. However, he was also positively affected by their history, the light in the quarries and the beauty of the industrial process.
In his new series God’s Allies revisited, Hans Bol concerns himself with reinterpreting and re-printing (the same) negatives from his archive that formed the basis of the first series that led to the booklet God’s Allies (published in 2018 and designed by Willem van Zoetendaal). In 2018 all prints were both silver gelatin darkroom prints and inkjet prints on Japanese paper, in various, sometimes large sizes; in the present series Bol exclusively makes small, intimate, silver gelatin prints in which he searches for a completely different, more gloomy tone/palette and a more mysterious/mystifying interpretation of this black bird. In literature, crows and ravens are mostly depicted as dark, threatening, death-linked birds. In some cultures, however, they also stand for happiness and luck, lighter sentiments so to speak. In ancient times they were seen as the messengers of the gods. Either way you look at them, they have always intrigued people. By using various darkroom techniques such as pre-exposure and toning and by using chance as an expressive tool through the use of solarisation, the resulting prints are at times unpredictable and unpremeditated. In post-production, by adding gold leaf or gold dust to certain prints, the more mysterious and perhaps even divine element that is so often attributed to these birds is intensified.