From 1985 Herbert Nouwens worked almost exclusively in steel, after a solid classical training at the City Academy and a post-academic training at the Jan van Eijk Academy, both in Maastricht. His preference for steel has to do with the great plastic and constructive possibilities of that material, he can use it to express what fascinates him the most: extreme contrasts, apparent weightlessness, large volumes, which can sometimes be very transparent.
Steel suits his associative way of working, suits the necessary and constant dialogue between creator and material during the creation process. He translates his impressions into forms according to the basic principles of classical sculpture. But within that classical tradition, Nouwens has managed to develop his own design language.
He finds it a challenge to create work for a specific place. The work redefines the place.
An observation by a fellow artist is enlightening in this regard:
“When I look at those small sculptures of Herbert, I see that those little things in your imagination immediately expand into very large sculptures in the space, where you can live in. If you look at his big sculptures, I get the exact opposite. Then those large sculptures in your imagination become places where you can simply stand by, which you can take in your hand. I find that the amazing thing about Herbert’s work, that you are very concretely involved in his work, both physically and in your imagination, and I think that is a really great strength of this sculptor.” (Theo Besemer, opening speech during an exhibition)