An autodidact, born 10 November, 1960, Job Versteeg found his own way in life through the art of painting. As his early work became increasingly three-dimensional, Job progressed from being a painter in search of contact with the land and the sea to becoming a sculptor who binds and connects. His work constitutes the symbolic representation of our unity with nature and the connections between cultures, and past and present.
In our ever more globalised world, cultures come together every day and everywhere. When the other comes too close, we often turn away. We hide behind our self-righteousness, our cultural superiority. The unknown other undermines our identity, our certainties. We hesitate and flinch. Fear is expressed in anger, in faith in simple solutions, in generalisation and the negation of individuality. The tragedy of it all is that we thereby negate the other and eventually even ourselves.
Job’s sculptures are a passionate plea to us all to embrace cultures, to embrace the other. For from the fusion, from the mutual propagation that ensues, a new culture is born that transcends the former. It is in that convergence and subsequent diffusion that beauty lies. Job uses symbolic artifacts that embody the cultural bridge in a way that overcomes the fear, that administers form to the beauty of the unexpected rendezvous, that reconciles clashing ideals.
His work also exposes the value and veracity of cultures that we no longer encounter. Job shows us that we mistakenly, albeit perhaps only implicitly, treat hunter-gatherer cultures as primitive. Such reasoning exposes a misguided faith in evolution, which is at variance with the universally human. It is modern man in confusion, adrift from the essence, driven by vanity and ambition. Blinded by the outside sheen, he no longer knows which way to turn. He looks but does not see, hears but does not listen.
In his work, Job seeks to demonstrate the beauty of these cultures, the beauty of the immediate, of the form that is not complete or perfect, but an approximation to the idea. Through his allusions and his works themselves, he also wants to remind us that moral superiority inappropriate. We should take a closer look at the prior representatives of our origins – they are from whence we came and whether we like it or not, we are intimately connected to them.
It seems that in our haste to dominate nature we have forgotten that we depend upon it. We live above it, walk past it and are barely conscious of the fundamental bond we have with nature, and thus with ourselves. We are in a sense lost without that bond. It is true of our soul and psyche, but also manifest in the threat of a plundered planet that’s in danger of straying out of orbit. If we don’t hold on to the earthly, then the earth will turn herself away from us, will shake off what we call civilisation with a shrug of the shoulders. In the relentless hunt for happiness, it seems we have lost all contact with our origins and, therefore, with our fundamental emotions. Yet man cannot live off abstractions.
In his work, Job reveals the beauty of the earthly. By using materials found in nature, he draws us back into a harmonious relationship with our origins. And they come directly from nature, a nature that has herself given them extra shape. The sea smooths, the earth erodes, the sand sands. It is nature retouching her own work, like a divine artist who allows life to pass through her own creation once more. The beach is the display cabinet where Job sources his materials and he brings them together to represent the relationship of humanity to the earth.
We’re connected to yesterday and the day before, too, to our ancestors who lived in the dunes and along the rivers with their children. We seem desperate to detach our digital present from that past. But history refuses to be denied. We live on the shoulders of our parents, we are the end product of a development that we cannot ignore.
The new cannot be without the old. In his work, Job shows us that old past. For without respect for the past we cannot respect our children – we forget who we are.
Job’s work binds and at the same time exposes the bonds to which we are inseparably bound. His work is an appeal for probity, for an honest attitude towards the world. He has given form to materials akin to the way humans should give form to their lives, to their environment and to death. His work points us towards harmony, but not the perfect harmony of the circle: the harmony with the scars, with the minor flaws that give strength to a greater whole. In the incomplete and imperfect is where man finds himself and his purpose.