Man of Steel – Dion Horstmans
Sydney. NSW. Australia
New Zealand born, Bondi based Dion Horstmans is a sculptor, maker, storyteller, father, actor and artist. To put it simply, he is a doer. Standing at over six feet tall and sporting an impressive beard, he is the picture of a fearsome warrior of another age. But look past the imposing exterior and he is warm and genuine, an artist truly devoted to his craft, and a man constantly chasing his next challenge.
It is such a privilege,” says Dion. “I sometimes cannot believe that I essentially make a living creating high-end luxury goods for people’s walls. It’s a total privilege to be able to wake up every day and make art. ”Despite the robust quality of his work, it is this grateful mentality, a mantra that stems from a position of humble vulnerability, that best summarises Dion the artist and Dion the person. “To go into people’s homes and see apiece on the wall is incredibly humbling. It’s something I don’t ever take for granted.”
Despite the robust quality of his work, it is this grateful mentality, a mantra that stems from a position of humble vulnerability, that best summarises Dion the artist and Dion the person.
Exhibiting professionally since 1995 and with over a decade of experience in the film industry prior to making the switch to being a fulltime artist, Dion’s journey is a fascinating one. “Growing up on a farm in New Zealand, I have always made art and always drawn ever since I could hold a pencil,” he says. “Pre-’95 I worked on paper only. I am certainly not the most gifted artist in my field by any stretch, but I have a very innate skill, a superpower if you will, for spatial awareness and volume.” It was this connection to geometric precision that made Dion’s transition from solely two-dimensional work to the creation of three-dimensional sculptures an extremely natural process. “My brain sometimes works much faster than my hands can,” he states. “I am constantly amazed by looking at my early work and wondering “how on earth did I make that?” Whilst my work has evolved, I am constantly using my artistic journey as a source of creativity.”
Dion strives to depict energetic movement through his static structures, joining powerful linear patterns to create forceful, multi-dimensional sculptures. His Islander heritage and keen interest in ethnography sees tribal patterns and motifs underpin his entire body of work. However, he can find creativity in even the most trivial or unexpected of places. “I grew up watching movies like Star Wars and the Warriors,” explains Dion. “I’m not a sci-figeek, but I love films and I love music. My practice is constantly drawing off itself. It represents a never-ending fountain of what ever I want. If something looks cool, I am most likely going to try and do something with it.”
Exhibiting professionally since 1995 and with over a decade of experience in the film industry prior to making the switch to being a fulltime artist, Dion’s journey is a fascinating one.
The key to understanding Dion’s work, and Dion himself for that matter, is to not think too critically about the information placed in front of you – there is a refreshing honesty to both the man and his art. “I know what I am as an artist, I make decorative pieces for people’s walls,” he says. “I am a deep thinker, but I don’t have a political agenda with my art. If you asked me to describe my work I will reply, I like making shit. I have never felt the need to justify it.”
While strong lines and geometric repetition echo the artistic stylings of Dion’s heritage, his strength of character is embodied by his trademark use of steel. “Steel is amazing,” he exclaims. “It’s a brutal material but it’s also super forgiving. It is a great medium to work in as it gives me the ability to cut, fill, grind and change whatever I like.” With his sculptures being forged in such a high energy environment of molten steel and aggressive noise, it will come as a slight surprise that it is the quiet subtlety of each piece that gives Dion the most satisfaction. “Everything I have created thus far is all about the shadow,” he explains. “It’s not about the piece, or the colours, it’s about the shadows and the subtlety of the form the light takes on.” He continues, “I am selling you a sculpture that comes with a wall painting. I am not afraid to put a white piece on a white wall because I know this sculpture will change with the hours and seasons.”
There is a refreshing honesty to both the man and his art.
Recently signing to Tim Olsen’s internationally renowned Olsen Gallery, Dion has an exciting path ahead of him as he chases down his next challenge. “I have the incredible opportunity to open a solo exhibition at Sydney’s Olsen Gallery on the 21st of April this year,” says Dion. “I am putting a body of work together that will cross my entire practice thus far. With this exhibition I am trying tell the short history of Dion Horstmans the sculptor.” Despite the validation that comes with his first exhibition at the Olsen Gallery, Dion remains as humble as ever when it comes to his work. “I don’t think of myself as an artist,” he states. “I never went to fine art school and I never submitted an artistic thesis. I am constantly terrified someone is going to knock on my door one day and catch me out for being a hoax.” He goes on to elaborate, “it’s a big fucking pat on the back seeing a piece on the wall, be it the Olsen Gallery or a small rental apartment somewhere. I didn’t have a privileged upbringing, but now I am living a privileged life, and this is something I try hard to never forget.”
Dion’s strong yet subtle, dynamic works embody his infinite energy and genuine lust for life. In a profession where many artists choose to remain aloof, opting instead to let their work define them, his gregarious openness and willingness to speak honestly about his experiences offers a fascinating insight into the modest nature that lies at the very core of the powerful sculptures.