Bats are intriguing, useful animals that play a crucial role in the ecosystem by preying on insects. In Asian culture, bats symbolise wealth, luck and a blessed old age. Here in the West, they represent both dark forces and a positive, saving force. Take Batman, for example, or the façades of the great cathedrals where bats, in the form of gargoyles, keep demons at bay. Which is wonderfully appropriate to this old, fire-damaged church, the Broerekerk. The stairs on the bat’s back invite visitors to symbolically conquer the bat. And in doing so, to transcend themselves.
3.3 m high, 2.4 m wide
Source of inspiration: the façade of the burnt-out church Broerekerk
Location: Broereplein in front of the Broerekerk
Address: Broereplein 9, 8701 JC Bolsward
The themes of the ceramic and bronze sculptures of Johan Creten (1963) range from monumental birds and frightening octopuses to women’s torsos covered with sharp-pointed roses. Their rich symbolic meaning is never unequivocal and sways back and forth between seduction and fear, strength and vulnerability, the sacred and the demonic. With his catholic background and feeling for drama, Creten senses the emotionally charged history of Bolsward perfectly.
Johan Creten was one of the few artists who started working with ceramics in the 80s and today he is seen as one of the pioneers in gaining acceptance for ceramic art. Creten’s work is featured in prominent galleries and museums around the world, as well as in public spaces, such as on the Rijnkaai in Antwerp. In 2014, he was the first living Belgian to get a solo exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. In 2015, auction house Christie’s praised him as ‘One To Watch’, but the international art world no longer needs this encouragement.