Hans Bol (b. in 1957, Amsterdam) is a Dutch photographer. 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.
Bol specialises in black and white photography and 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.
Previous exhibition venues include FOAM, Fotomuseum Den Haag, Museum Beelden aan Zee, Unseen and Haute Photographie. In 2020, Bol’s oeuvre was on view at a group show at Museum IJsselstein. His work is included in the collections of such museums as Rijksmuseum, Fotomuseum Den Haag, Het Nederlands Fotomuseum, Museum Beelden aan Zee and Fotomuseum Antwerpen.
Bol is recognised for his depiction of birds as messengers of eternity. The crow, one of Bol’s favorite species, is also a metaphor for something rather universal. Not only death, an interpretation that dates back to pagan times, but also an omen of happiness according to some cultures and mythologies. For White Crow, Bol uses platinum-palladium printing that results in warm-toned and slightly velvety prints. This technique, which stems from around 1870, is known for its long and subtle tonal scale which gives the prints a timeless quality. Making them is a true craft; when done properly, platinum-palladium prints can last for many hundreds of years.
Skilled in creating photobooks and their concepts, Hans Bol creates artist books of his own — often accompanied by hand-made collector’s editions. His latest book White Crow (2020) reconnects the artist with his deceased father and the crow with its symbolic meaning as a messenger of eternity.
In his 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 and eventually 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 revisited 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 — the raven. 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 a 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.
Click here to view the CV of Hans Bol