Written in 1972, reflections by Henri on his "Organiverse" series: background, history, thoughts

Art, Meditation, Ecology 

Atom by Atom - Dot by Dot

Mandala #3 from set of #100, Organiverse
Pointillism, 8.5 cm diameter, by Henri van Bentum

Created in Morocco and the island of Madeira. My work is in over 225 public and private collections around the world. All 100 mandalas are done in pointillism, dot by dot. The original Organiverse portfolio consists of twenty-five pages, each with four spherical drawings 8.5 cm in diameter.

"The work of Henri van Bentum reminds us of organic processes on the cosmic and microcosmic levels. His work helps me understand the vastness, complexity and beauty of the cosmos. van Bentum's work is executed with a fine sense of colour and other elements. I see his work as a paradigm for enduring works of art in the future." Former Professor Leslie Mezei, Computer Sciences, U of T.

Quote from the former Curator, National Gallery of Canada, Prints and Drawings:
“The technique of the [Organiverse] drawings is comprised of finely-tuned transparent and opaque layers of colour. This play of contrasts gives the work a three-dimensional quality enhanced by a delicate luminosity. The colours are complicated and would require a sensitive use of colour separation. In order to maintain the integrity of the original drawing imagery and effect, the most articulate reproductive methods would have to be utilized.” 
Rosemary L. Tovell, Curator, Canadian Prints and Drawings National Gallery of Canada, 1979

Organiverse is a meditational aid or 21st century kasina device. It is used to enhance meditation practice. 

“Organiverse is a glimpse into the multilayered beauty of all that is Life. These mandalas offer an immense opportunity for healing and for a heart-based understanding of who we are physically, emotionally and spiritually. A dance of colour, form and contemplation.”

Dr. Mark Sherman, MDCM, CCFP

Back in the 1950's I was already looking at environmental issues. I've always advocated ‘Small is Beautiful’ and work on a small scale, using a minimum of resources for maximum results.

Click here for details about the Organiverse rotation handset which comes with a wood container made from recovered wood from Vancouver Island.
 Photo of the Organiverse handheld set

Notes on the original Organiverse Portfolio

This unique series of pointillism mandalas was started in Morocco in 1972.  Natasha and I were living in the former Phoenician fishing village of Essaouira, and afterwards moved to the island of Madeira where the work was completed.

The original Organiverse portfolio consists of twenty-five pages, each with four spherical drawings 8 cm in diameter. The work was made into a 35mm colour and sound short film by filmmaker Julius Kohanyi in 1973. He was commissioned for this project by the Ontario Arts Council. Since that time, the film has represented Canada in major international film festivals around the world.

My motivation in creating Organiverse was to have it reproduced in a limited edition and made available to libraries, art schools, universities and museums. Although pleased with the film’s success, my goal had not been realized. The contemplative nature of the work, with its refined visual sensibility and meditative characters, was lost on the huge 35mm theatre screens.

Over the years, I tried to get the Organiverse Portfolio printed. However an accurate rendering of the colour was impossible owing to the pointillist technique (using traditional printing technology).

However, through a partnership with Hewlett Packard (HP), the portfolio was scanned and reproduced using the latest HP imaging technology, in a limited edition of twenty-five sets.

These scans were further used to create the new Organiverse: Art Meditation Ecology set, featuring each mandala on a separate card.

Creation of the new "Starry Night" edition of ORGANIVERSE

Following a successful experiment with HP, we had a reverse edition of the original Organiverse set created, called “Starry Night”.  I would like to thank Joe Carr, Brian W. Johnson and Garry Sedun for their technical assistance.  Click here to watch videos of both the original, and the Starry Night editions.

Mandala #25 from the set of #100, 
"Starry Night" edition of Organiverse, Henri van Bentum

Statement by the Artist

"While we are occupied with our daily existence, a great mystery takes place: Life, evolving in every form, from micro to the macro cosmos. We on our planet Earth finally begin to realize there may be other life in the Universe.

With this project, we share insights into this enigma called life, embracing art, science and ecology a timeless universalism of growth, evolution or genesis --- we have the microscope and telescope within, and an unknown destiny. This work also embraces the interplay and relationship of Colour. It is further a study in organic development. The invisible is made visible, through dots.

We are biologically no more nor less than dots --- atoms. The planets and even the Sun are only a spot in space, depending from where you look. We have seen, when astronauts go further and further away from Earth, our receding planet then quickly disappears into what one astronaut simply called a dot.

We leave our own world behind, and find a new and alien world, until eventually we leave even that, continuing further to another dot, only to discover that it is again an unknown giant in space.

All life has a beginning, be it the birth of plankton, a whale, lichen, an oak tree, a mouse, and elephant or human being. All comes out of darkness the womb, the cosmic egg. Beyond darkness and ignorance there awaits Light."

Henri van Bentum, written in 1972