Henk van Boekel was born in Kleve of Germany on 27 January 1924 to Dutch parents. He developed an interest in art in his early formative years. At the age of twelve he had his first lessons in painting from portraitist Otto Sohn Rethel, who opened his creative horizons. From the age of fourteen he studied paitning in the studio of landscapist John Smith, who introduced him to drawing and watercolors. Living in Nazi Germany, Van Boekel became sensitive about human rights. In 1942 he declined a scholarship that would be granted had he accepted the German citizenship. In 1943 he was forced to work in a German war-factory and his resistance led him to serve a prisonterm.
After liberation in 1945, van Boekel turned back to art. In 1947 he held his fisrt personal exhibition in Kleve. Financial reasons related to the welfare of his new family obliged him to follow a designer's career at the German Fashion Council. During this time he took every opportunity to travel frequently to Paris, London, Milan and Brussels.
In 1975 van Boekel came to Greece. He met painter Athina Latinopoulou and shared her studio in Plaka. There, he dedicated himself entirely to sculpture and painting, developing an expressionist style. Dr. Dora Iliopoulou-Rogan writes about van Boekel: "Endowed with an excellent metier, whatever material he may select, [...] always manages to communicate with us directly and substantively, conveying in each case a timely message and an essential passion for creation." [2005, p.14]
Henk van Boekel presented the following personal exhibitions: Dada Gallery, Athens (1984 & 1985); Galerie Zygos, Athens (1987); Cultural Center of Naoussa (1988); Epoches Gallery, Kifissia (1990); Astrolavos Gallery, Athens (1993 & 2005); Aenaon Art Gallery, Neo Psychiko (1994); Anemos Gallery, Kifissia (1996); Cultural Center of Marathon (2000); Open Studios of Rafina (2002); and Vorres Museum, Peania (2006). He also took part in the following group exhibitions: Miltenberg, Germany (1948 & 1949); Dada Gallery, Athens (1985 & 1986); UNICEF of Athens (1987); International Encounters, Eolos Gallery, Athens (1989); Epoches Gallery, Athens (1990, 1991, 1992 & 1993); Astrolavos Gallery (1994, 2000); Anemos Gallery, Kifissia (1996 & 2004); Aenaon Art Gallery, Athens (2001); Perantinos Museum, Paros Island (2001); Month of Visual Arts, Technopolis, Athens (2001); Rarity Gallery, Mykonos Island (2002-2003); Townhall of Rafina (2003); Mesogia, Vorres Museum, Peania (2004 & 2006); and Silent Dialogues: Multimedia Portraits Throughout Time, ACG Art Gallery, The American College of Greece, Athens (2008).
Henk Van Boekel had chosen to live and work in Greece since 1976, and died in Rafina in 2005.
[Megakles Rogakos 08/2006]
ILIOPOULOU-ROGAN, DORA Henk van Boekel: Creativity Transforms Matter into Spirit 2005 Libro d'Oro, Athens