In 2001, after 9-11, Herman van Bergen (The Netherlands, 1953) searched for a material to express his feelings about the violent, dark and demonic sides of mankind. The Acacia Tortuosa - a wild shrub growing on the depleted soils of Curaçao and considered a nuisance - turned out to be perfect.
Mother Nature tried to defend herself with the thorns of the Acacia Tortuosa against the explorers from Europe, who murdered and enslaved the native Indians and cut down the original vegetation of hardwood trees after their discovery of the Caribbean island in 1499. After five centuries this nearly inviolable stronghold of thorns still exists as a silent protest of nature against pollution, depletion and violence. The Acacia Tortuosa therefore appears to house an extraordinary spirit - a soul of pain, torture and regret.
However, by illuminating his structures from within, he also pays a tribute to the equally important bright side of life - the freedom of thought and the possibility to create. This philosophy is also present in his oil and watercolor paintings, that clearly visualize the bright colors of the Caribbean, but often also express processes of deterioration and chaos.
Besides these paintings, Van Bergen is currently creating a Cathedral of Thorns, an Indian-shaped labyrinth of 20 x 20 square meters and a height of 7 meters consisting of thorns walls that are illuminated from within. In the center of the structure, there will be an area where colleagues can exhibit works of art as a tribute to free thought and the creating spirit.
Van Bergen studied art and anthropology in the Netherlands, but has worked and lived in the former Dutch colony Curaçao since 1989. His sculptures and paintings were exhibited in Europe, South America, the Caribbean and several US states such as Florida, New York and - in 2011 - Michigan.