A Quest For Love is a artistic report of my search for a new girlfriend. The project started in 2006, after my 15-year relationship ended. And although I didn't thought it would take so long, it is still current. The result of this search is a collection of more than 60 artworks I’ve made over a period of more than 10 years. The majority of these structures consist of houses made of sponge. I call these houses Modern Shrines.

A shrine is a place for storing valuable things. Usually, when we think of a shrine, we think about a reliquary; a shrine in the shape of a box in which relics are kept. However, the word is also used for a temple, chapel or other sanctuary with a certain attraction to pilgrims.
  Both the first and second meaning of the word shrine are reflected in my work. My houses are repositories for the precious insights I gain, while making them. At the same time, they are chapels to which you can return to, to let that insight affects you.

There is not much difference between building a Modern Shrine and making a painting, it is an order in form and color. You could consider the side of a house as an abstract painting, where color and rhythm already tells a part of the story. All attached elements must support the meaning of the image, not only in shape but also in color. In this way, figurative and abstract elements are both visible at the same time.
Symbolism and metaphors are an important part of my work. Just like clichés. Clichés are images -in this case toy figurines- that communicate well and convey a clear message straight away. These clichés do not necessarily have to be true, but their power can be used  in the story I want to tell. A collection of clichés together is always different and it produces great metaphors to my own symbolic language.
It doesn’t make sense to invest time in something that someone else has already done much better. That is why I choose to use already existing figures in my work. The expertise and precision with which these often have been designed, I cannot possibly surpass. That’s why I wander around stores and flea markets, searching, until my eye catches exactely that item, I was looking for.

I try to make my work easily accessible without having to compromise on quality. You don’t need to know a lot about art to be able to enjoy my work, in that respect I do not have to function within the Art world. For me it’s sufficient to show it in a well visited place. And although I don’t have anything against the fact that the subculture of the Art world exists, and even enjoy it many times, I still like the fact that my work has value outside this community.

I have been working as a visual artist since 1992 situated in The Hague. I started as a sculptor and later I developed myself in painting. In addition to these disciplines, I’m also active as an initiator, organizer and curator at, for example, “Artists Initiative 1646”, “Hoogtij from Stichting Haagse Rondgang” and the “Bureau for Contemporary Adventure/The Hague Sculpture”. Since 2009 my artistic work focuses primarily on building the Modern Shrines. Also in my earlier work as an artist I have taken myself as a starting point. In paintings and sculptures I have always searched for what is going on inside me. With the idea that I am not unique in my emotional life, I hope that other people can identify themselves with my work. This continues in A Quest For Love, but now it’s also explicitly linked to the relationship with my lover. A theme that, given the existence of the many dating sites, is always an actual topic.

Ramon Ottenhof