Bergen, Herman van

Bergen, Herman van


Herman van Bergen and The Cathedral of Thorns
He was born in the Netherlands in 1953 and came to Curaçao in 1989. He is mostly known locally for the ‘Curaçao Art Calendar’ for which he yearly supplies 12 watercolors with Curaçao scenes like the monuments of Willemstad, the monumental plantation houses or the white sandy beaches.

His other artistic work is known and appreciated far beyond the borders of the island. His oil paintings as well as his three dimensional work with the ‘sumpiñas’, the thorn of the local tree, Acacia Tortuosa. Van Bergen uses the thorn to create sculptures of varying sizes. In November 2012, after almost a decade of persistent lobbying, he has finally received approval for his boldest venture: a Cathedral of Thorns to be realized in 2014 on the premises of Landhuis Bloemhof.

The ultimate Thorn Sculpture concept
The ‘Cathedral of Thorns’ will be a massive lighted labyrinth for the visitor to walk through and experience an artistic journey that speaks of history, but takes life in a new and positive direction. The thorns represent the painful times of the past but the light shining through the woven walls will illuminate a future honoring this history. Seen from afar the walls will form the profile of an Indian face from a now lost people and they will also symbolize the control and exploitation of human beings during the period of Slavery.
Yet the thorns become beautiful as they are now being used in a creative way. The maze they form will hold objects of contemporary art from guest-artists in order to express sharing and collaboration which is the beautiful side of human nature. A scale model of the project is on display in the recently opened Rif Fort Museum.

Beso di Kunuku.
Beso di Kunuku is a wall piece by Herman van Bergen.  A mouth, made of thorns, at intervals lights up and offers prickly kisses, while producing a loud kissing-sound. The action is activated by movement and in a quiet museum the sound may startle unsuspecting visitors. Beso di Kunuku was presented to the His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Queen Máxima, at their visit to Curaçao, November 18, 2013.  The artwork was the national gift from Curaçao to the King and Queen.
(scroll down to see a short video of the artwork)
2013: Text and photographs by Josée Thissen-Rojer.

2015 CODAvideo Awards Top 100



 Click here for Herman van Bergen's website

Facebook page for The Cathedral of Thorns

Promotion Video for the exhibit Island Reflections, in 2011, about the art and artists of Curaçao. Herman van Bergen was one of the 10 selected artists. The exhibit took place from August 19th till October 1st 2011 at the  De Pree Art Center and Gallery. This gallery is located at Hope College in Holland, Michigan USA and was guest curated by Susan Wilczak.
See video below.

Presentation by Herman van Bergen at TedX on Curaçao in 2011 on his project for The Cathedral of Thorns.
See second video below.


Solo exhibitions
2012 Cultuurhistorisch Natuurmuseum Savonet, Curaçao.

2010 Galerie De Bakkerij, Bergen, The Netherlands.

2005 Daar waar het huis van mijn geest gaat, Landhuis Bloemhof, Curaçao.

2001 In Memoriam, Bijbels Openlucht museum. Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

2001 DAR Afvalverwerking. Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

1998 Albert Schweitzer College, Curaçao.

1998 Human Fertilizer, Classic Caribbean Art Gallery, Curaçao.

1997 Huisje Boompje Beestje, Landhuis Groot Davelaar, Curaçao.

1993 Landhuis Papaya, Curaçao.

1990 Chantdassongverwelkt, Gallery De Jaargetijden, Meppel, The Netherlands.

1990 Gallerie Artisan. Mill, The Netherlands.

1988 Gallery'86, Curaçao.

1986 Galerie De Taveerne, Curaçao.

Group Exhibitions

2014 Exploring the Past to Envisage the Future, the Curaçao Museum, Curaçao.

2013 Tropisch Koninkrijk (Tropical Kingdom)Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle, the Netherlands.

2013 Back to Nature, Landhuis Bloemhof, Curaçao.

2012 Art Prize, Grand Rapids, Michigan US.

2011 Island Reflections, Depree GAllery at Hope College, Michigan USA.

2011 Kate Moss in Mahaai, by Herman van Bergen and Hans Vaders (Poetry), Mon Art Gallery.

2011 Brionplein Gallery, Exhibit in honor of the Dutch Royal Family's visit to Curaçao.

2010 Festival del Caribe, Cuba.

2010 Primera Trienal Internacional del Caribe, Arte & Medio ambiente, Museo de Arte Moderno, Santo Domingo.

2010 10-10-10, Antepasado de Futuro, The Curaçao Museum.

2009 Baby Bèbè, Fundraising exhibition. Mon Art Gallery, Curaçao.

2009 Cross Roads of the World, Mon Art Gallery,Curaçao.

2008 Artists from Curaçao, The Curaçao Museum, Curaçao.

2008 Eindejaarsexpositie, Mon Art Gallery, The Rif Fort, Curaçao.

2007 Alegria, Gallery Artitude, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

2007 Portraits, Mon Art Gallery, The Rif Fort, Curaçao.

2007 Something is happening in Pietermaai, Curaçao.

2007 Snoa 275, Exhibition commemorating 275 years of continuous operation Mikvé Israel Emanuel Synagogue. Villa Maria, Curaçao.

2006 Arte Bèbè. Fundraising Exhibition, Rif Fort Village, Curaçao.

2005 Oisterwijk Sculptuur. The Netherlands, Miami, New York, London, Curaçao.

2004 Off the Main. Puck Building, New York, USA.

2004 Artitude Gallerie. Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

2004 De Boog Gespannen. Temporary Art Gallery, Otrobanda Vieja, Curaçao.

2003 5th Caribbean Biennial, Sto. Domingo, Dominican Republic.

2003 Art Basel Miami, Diaspora Vibe GAllery, Miami, USA.

2003 Esthetica Nobo, Access Art GAllery, Aruba.

2003 Laman 2003, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, 50th anniversary exhibit. The Rif Fort, Curaçao.

2003 Resusitá, Temporary Art Gallery, Curaçao.

2002 Riffort Village, Temporary Art Gallery, Otrobanda Vieja, Curaçao.

2002 Curaçao Art Festival, Jan Kok.

2002 Fiesta del Fuego, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.

2002 Entre Lineas, The Curaçao Museum, Curaçao.

2002 In this Light, The Curaçao Museum, Curaçao.

2002 Between the Lines, Paramaribo, Surinam.

2002 Entre Lineas, Cariforo, Martinique and Guadeloupe. French Antilles.

2002 Entre Lineas, EU Commission, Bruxelles, Belgium.

2001 Dutch Heritage Day. Hotel Inter Continental, Miami, USA.

2001 Sarah Lee. Miami Convention Center, Miami, USA.

2001 Entre Lineas. Palacio Bellas Artes, Sto. Domingo.

2001 Musee D'Art Haitien Du College, Saint Pierre, Haiti.

2001 Casa de Cultura, Santiago, Dominican Republic.

2001 Ministry of Community Development, Dominica.

2001 Social Cultural Development Department, St. Maarten.

2001 Ministry  of Education Culture and Technology, Antigua.

2001 Moving Momentum, Curaçao.

2000 Gallery Bloemhof, Curaçao.

2000 Watamula, the breathing holes. International artists workshop, Curaçao.

2000 The Boatproject. Maritime Museum, Curaçao.

2000 San Sebastian. Centro Bellas Artes, Maracaibo, Venezuela.

2000 Antillen in Nederland. World Art Foundation, Delft, The Netherlands.

1999 Auto Retrato Nobo, Cas di Cultura, Aruba.

1999 Arte'99, Identidat…ayera awe mañan. Mangasina di Arte, Scharloo, Curaçao.

1998 Abrahan Collection. Kas di Alma Blou, Curaçao.

1998 Exhibition di Nos Arte. The Curaçao Museum, Curaçao.

1991 Beyond the Deadline. Gallery Magenta, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

1991 Gala di Arte. World Trade Center, Curaçao.

1990 Gallery Artisan, Mill, The Netherlands.

1989 Atelierverschijningen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

1989 Beyond the Deadline, Alewijnse Pand, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

1988 Atelierverschijningen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

1987 Galerie De Vier Jaargetijden, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

1987 Atelierverschijningen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Adriaans, Bob & Bergen, Herman van  & Thomas, Otti. a.o. (2008). Snèkbook. Colombia: ICM Taller de Diseño LTDA.

Bergen, Herman van & Casimiri, Daisy & Wijnand, Viktor. (2012), The Works, 7th limited edition. Curaçao.

Bergen, Herman van & Vaders, Hans. (2011), Kate Moss in Mahaai. The Netherlands: Uitgeverij In de Knipscheer & Mon Art Productions Curaçao.

Breukink, Eva & Wolfert, Sinaya (2008). Artists from Curaçao. The Netherlands: Drukkerij van Deventer, p. 16 - 23.

Dutch Caribbean Art Diary, (2000 - 2012). Curaçao: Mon Art Productions Curaçao.

Inspired by the Snoa; 275  years. MMVIII Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel, Curaçao (2008).

Watamula, the breathing holes (2000). Performance video by Herman van Bergen & Cuban artist Wilfredo Peito.

2003 Innovatieprijs Curaçao, Nominee.

1998 Originality Award, Exhibitions di Nos Arte, Curaçao Museum, Curaçao.