From Knots to Grains with Peter Arnoud Bensen


Umbilical features a series of rings being spun into an elegant swirl, exuding a sense of quaint beauty. The sculpture symbolises the flow of life, like how a mother provides for and nurtures her child through the umbilical vein. More than just a symbol, Umbilical captures Bensen’s memories as a deep-sea diver. The umbilical cord of a diver carries vital elements to him during missions, acting as a lifeline in the deep sea. With Umbilical, Bensen shares a part of his past with us and connects us with a realm that we would hardly, if not never, be in touch with.

The base is composed of a single spherical-shaped steel weight, resting within a wooden foundation. Bensen sees the spherical base as the incubator of life to which the Umbilical is connected to and passing on the flow of life from one place to another. Bringing the Hawking’s theory of the bending of space-time to life, the depression shows us how our reality may be poles apart from the actual reality. Bensen hopes to inspire people to keep exploring the unknown and never stop finding answers.’

Peter Arnoud Bensen, a Dutch sculptural artist and designer implements the following four core concepts in his artworks: illusion, perspective, perception and metamorphosis. Bensen has a passion for wood and its patterns; the knots and the grains, and the segment of each piece where it originated from. ‘Wood has been my preferred choice in my art pieces, and I enjoy to explore a combination of different materials in my works,’ said Bensen.

He then continued, ‘As an artist, the last thing you have to do is restrict yourself with one material or even one discipline. And that is where the science comes in: I like to incorporate mathematical notions such as the Golden Ratio, geometry as well as new materials, electronics and even computer science. It is a bottomless well of combinations, but you have to be aware that the mainstream art critics or traditionalists are not always ready to accept this kind of art.’

Bensen moved to Singapore in July 2010, but the transition from the Caribbean to Singapore was clearly significant enough to create a bottleneck to his creativity. He then moved to New Zealand for a breath of fresh ideas and creativity. During his stay in New Zealand, he jumped start to designing and making lamps from recycled materials. During a short trip back to Singapore, he met his significant other and then reversed his migration. His wife now co-runs his design company.

Bensen can create an art piece in a few hours but on average, he described that , he had to think for months before the inspirations kick in and they are translated into sketches, drawings and first trials.

‘If I am clear in the choice of material I want to use it is easy for me, but I don’t like easiness. I have to challenge myself or better said I need the challenge. I want to find the edge of my capacity even in the materials I want to use. It gives you that extra push to grow as an Artist and even as a human being, I call it the moment of Flow, ‘said Bensen.

Learning Comes with Experiences

The creation of new masterpieces, each unique and one of its kind often comes with hard work and a list of experiences to understanding the nature of the materials used in each project. Bensen does preach on what he believes as his core concepts, and they are shown in his artworks at Ricciotti Restaurant and Mobel Story Furniture Boutique (Singapore).

‘Are you a perfectionist?’ asked Lin.

‘Well, I have to be. It’s like buying a new car, customers would not like to see scratches on it or awkward finishing touches that are not supposed to be there.’

He then continued, ‘Do something that you never think you will be able to do. I always try to do it right at the first trial, but if you were to stretch the ability of the material you use to the fullest then there is a big chance that it goes wrong and you have to start over. Of course, it all depends what kind of art piece you are creating, painters and photographers don’t have that problem.’

Natural materials require some dissection, and hence artists must have the ability to read it. From sketches on paper to a 3D- artefact, Bensen leaves it in his workshop for a few weeks. The predominant reason for such habit is to grant acceptance that the concept and physical entity of his artefact is now ready for the public. Bensen also elaborated,’If you work with wood you have to look at how the flow of the grains are and, which segment of the tree it originates from. It can take a long time before you find the right piece to work with. But if you have all the right ingredients then the process to complete your piece can be fast, and for me it is often between one to two weeks but sometimes it can be longer.’

Nature and Nurture

Bensen’s first art pieces were paintings. At about 12 years-old, his mother gave him an art box for oil painting. He started painting the birds illustrated in the 1001 Birds Encyclopaedia, but all of his paintings were lost during his moves around the globe. ‘After my Grandfather died he left me his Yashica B (1957) photo camera, I then begun taking pictures. In my late teenage years and early twenties, I continued with photography, and also started to design furniture and artistic lamps. I love diversity and I want to try other dimension in the artistic arena. Every human being goes to many transitions in his life, so I think as an artist you are constantly changing your concepts as to which direction you are going and what you want to explore next.’

‘I am a hands-on designer and an Artist so it is very important for me to have a workshop annex studio. In the first two years in Singapore I didn’t have one so that was also the main reason why my creativity was blocked. Before living in Singapore, I lived in the Caribbean, and my workshop there was located under a big tree. That was for sure the my best workshop I ever had as nature is also a great source of inspiration for me. But it had its limitations involving the weather.’

Creations on the Little Red Dot

In the Fall 2012, Bensen and his wife Dr. Pina Marziliano, Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Electronic engineering at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore co-founded PABensen. PABensen is a design company whose mission is to create thought provoking artistic objects and innovative functional products which bridge the fields of art, science and technology. He now runs his studio-workshop at the Innovation Centre on the NTU campus with his team.

Bensen will be creating two big pieces which are, both at approximately two-meters in height. He will also be creating minor sculptural projects and to expand on an invention; a revolutionary joining device and locking system to be used in different fields, e.g. construction, aerospace, furniture and possibly toys. The next showcase will be in the early second half of 2016.

Featured Image: Bensen’s artwork – Illusion Series: the Umbilical

Source: NaoRococo & PABensen

Recommended materials

Editor’s note: Lin met Peter Bensen and his wife Pina at the Arts Drinks event in Singapore, December 10th 2015. The event was organized by Jane M Shishido and Ricciotti Italian Restaurant. 

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