The Bat Johan Creten

Bolsward
"During one of my visits to Bolsward I happened to look at the shape of the facade of the Broere Church, and what I suddenly saw before me was the image of a bat. Bats are mysterious, wonderful creatures. They both fascinate and intrigue, and folk tales are full of them. They’re also useful animals, who hunt for insects and thereby play a crucial role in the ecological system. In Tjerkwerd, a village near Bolsward, there’s a large colony of rare bats that are carefully counted every year."
New cultural heritage
in eleven Dutch cities
New cultural heritage
in eleven Dutch cities

The bat is not only beautiful to look at but it’s also very rich in symbolism. In the Asian culture it’s regarded as the symbol of wealth, luck and a blessed old age. For us the bat usually stands for night-time and for dark forces, which we see reflected in the gothic subculture, for example. But in popular culture it also symbolises a positive, liberating force, as in the case of Batman. In Tarot cards the bat stands for Rebirth, and when depicted as a gargoyle on the facades of great cathedrals it keeps the demons at bay. Of course this fits in beautifully with the church, which has risen to new life after the fire that left it in ruins. So the Bat Fountain as a symbol is open to several explanations. It remains a mystery that continues to elude us. But it also challenges us! For the stairs at the back of the sculpture invite the visitor to climb the Bat and to conquer it symbolically … and thereby to transcend himself. In this way the Bat may become an attraction in its own right and take on a healing function in relation to the ruined church.’

Johan Creten (Belgium, 1963) lives in Paris. Creten began his artistic career in the eighties as one of the very few to work in ceramics, and today he ranks as one of the trailblazers in the current acceptance of ceramic art. The subjects he chooses for his monumental bronze figures and glazed clay sculptures, many of them beautifully coloured, range from very large birds and octopuses to sharply pointed roses made up of women’s torsos and sensuous wall reliefs. Creten’s work is being exhibited in major galleries and museums worldwide, and has found a place in a number of public spaces. It is in great demand among leading private collectors. In 2014 Creten was the first living Belgian to be honoured with a solo exhibition in the Louvre in Paris. In 2015 Christie’s auction house praised him as ‘One To Watch’, but for collectors this tip is no longer necessary.

Fountains