Outside of the main entrance of Klooster Bredelar is an iron sculpture entitled 'Water'. It is part of the series Quartetto, a quartet of sculptures of 'the four elements': Air, Earth, Fire, Water. Four sculptures of exactly the four most important elements needed to make Iron. The image itself consists of four standing elements, and is thus an independent quartet within Quartetto. We placed this sculpture in 2017, to announce that the new exhibition in 2018 would be the main theme "Iron". Iron belongs to Sauerland, such as the ore in the mines, the forest by the fire, the oxygen in the air and the water by extinguishing.

Vooraanzicht Van Links Van rechts Achteraanzicht
Front view From the left From the right Back view


The sculpture consists of four standing columns that are reminiscent of the flow of water, actually falling from water, because they are narrow and steep from above and widen to the bottom and hurt forward. Nevertheless, they remain within the square base plate, which forms, as it were, a basin in which the water jets are collected.

When we walk around the image, it is noticeable that nothing has been hammered, shaped or forged in this iron, the material seems to be spread out like paste, while it nevertheless remains upright. The material is non-ferrous iron, but as slabs wet clay folded and rolled before they hardened. In reality, things went differently: large pieces of iron were deformed by various causes, waltzes, collisions of ships, demolishing and looking at existing parts before they were put together as a composition by Herbert Nouwens.

When we put the sculpture in front of the main entrance of the monastery, the artist suddenly thought of four nuns, here in this front yard, and that makes the sculpture even more appropriate for this place. It shows the openness of the sculptor for multiple possible interpretations: a sculpture always takes a part of its meaning from the location where it is placed.

A quadrangle with four equal angles and four equal sides, such as the base of this work, is called a square. When you develop it upwards, a beam is created, also called a vertical bar or less used: a pillar, pile or column, which then always has to be described whether the circumference is round or square. At Herbert Nouwens we will encounter this contradiction more often: that of an organically-oriented plastic, which, despite its plastic qualities, is limited by a strict geometric boundary. Like four waterfalls within a square basin, or four nuns within a cell. Usually the walls of the basin or the cell do not really exist, but we still observe them, because the sculpture clearly keeps to agreements of which we recognize the virtual boundaries.

At the same time, that always remains an interpretation. In the sculpture 'Water' the curved plate at the top left, seen from the front, is clearly outside the bar circumference. This protrusion in space is hardly present anymore in the view from the left. He hardly plays a role in the rear view. Something must, however, have kept the sculptor from sawing him away. That seems to be the decision of a moment. A moment when the artist did not want to surrender to the compulsion of the circumference, but decided that every composition endures a counterpoint.