Hansje van Halem: in patterns

A response to ‘Modernism: in print’

12 June 2017

From 16 June through 1 October 2017, graphic designer Hansje van Halem responds in the ErfgoedLab to the simultaneous exhibition ‘Modernism: in print’.

Between autonomous and applied art

Hansje van Halem (1978) is a designer of books, decorated papers, stamps and especially posters; the latter are silk-screen or risograph printed. Her experiments with letter forms and patterns, often a combination of the two, move between autonomous and applied art. One instance of this is the visual identity for the Lowlands Festival which was recently launched.

In addition to graphic work she creates designs for public and semi-public spaces. A striking new project in public space is a 350 m. long poem by K. Michel in East Amsterdam. The steel-cut letters balance on the verge of legibility and explore the line between letter and ornament.

Psychedelic patterns

In Hansje van Halem: in patterns she provides a response to Modernism on the basis of existing and new work. Modernism unconditionally rejected the ornament and favoured  the use of white as a dynamic element. Van Halem’s psychedelic patterns ignore this stark minimalism without any effort. Her work seems to continue the Victorian tradition of the ‘horror vacui’: everything is loaded with wonderful detail.

The exhibition ‘Hansje van Halem: in patterns’ includes patterns that are rich in contrast and features a film with flickering images. If you are sensitive to flashing lights, we advise you not to visit the exhibition. Special Collections cannot accept any responsibility for complaints resulting from light sensitivity. Entering the exhibition is at your own risk.


  • Hansje van Halem, III.
  • Amsterdam: Uitgeverij De Buitenkant, 2017.
  • ISBN 978 94 90913 75 5, € 40,00.


In Patterns

Published by  Special Collections UvA