August 2016

Sculptor Hans Richters; from clay into a good piece of arts

Hans Richters is a Dutch sculptor who lives in the Cochabamba’s countryside. Hans lives in freedom, has big dreams, and makes sculptures of people who he finds interesting in Cochabamba. I spoke to him to hear something about his interesting lifestyle and to see his impressive work.

By: Melanie Hazenberg
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Hilversum – The Netherlands


Photo by: Ximena Noya

Hans Richters has always been involved in arts. Since he was young, he made sculptures in his room. His parents always stimulated him. As a teenager, he began creating art professionally but always with other jobs alongside. He studied arts in Tilburg (the Netherlands) when he was 23 years old. Before his studies, he lived one year in France. When he finished his studies, he was a teacher for a few years. After that, he became a taxi driver. “Once I had a very important client in my car who was asking me things about my life. I told him that I liked to make sculptures. He said he knew a person who is one of the designers at De Efteling, a fairy tale theme park in the Netherlands). The man gave me the number of the designer. I called him the next day and went to the theme park to meet him and show my work. Suddenly ten years ago, I got a call from this man asking if I would like to help making new sculptures in De Efteling. ‘Of course I would like to do that!’ (De Efteling is the most famous attraction park in The Netherlands; everything in the park is fairy tale themed). I participated creating many sculptures for De Efteling such as Cinderella. We always did it with several sculptors; you can never do them by yourself. It is always a lot of fun because you are working with a drawer who I call ‘the spiritual drawer.’ The drawer drew something and you have to make exactly what he wants. One time I had to make a fireplace behind Cinderella. Making that little fireplace took me more than a week. Now I sometimes get calls if I can do something for De Efteling, but I am mainly busy with my own sculptures.


Photo by: Ximena Noya

Moving to Bolivia

I came to Bolivia because I love the people. In 2001, I traveled for six weeks through South America. I knew a bit of the Bolivian people and actually thought, ‘Those people are fine. I can stay here.’ In the ten years after my journey, I prepared everything to come back to Bolivia. I was quite a long time busy with making my head sculptures in The Netherlands. I had my work as taxi driver and De Efteling. So, I had enough money to move to Bolivia and work on new sculptures.

Hans Richters is currently working on a Madonna with a child. He had the idea to make a Madonna for a long time. When Hans was around twelve years old he was a church assistant and fell in love with Madonna sculptures.

Right now he is finally making his own Madonna with Jesus sculpture. He would like to give this sculpture as a gift to a very special church, but the pastor does not know anything yet. “I drove by this church and I knew this is the right place for Madonna with Jesus. I can finish the reproduction molds this weekend. After that, I am going to drain the sculpture, paint it and conserve it. If everything is ready I would like to go to the church and give the pastor my gift. I really hope he will accept it.

Emotions of people

The process for creating a sculpture is always different for Hans. He normally works with a model in front of him, but sometimes he uses stills from films or photos from people. With the Madonna, the process was different.

“During my time as a 12-year old church assistant, I fell in love with Madonna sculptures”

That sculpture was something he had to make. “A sculpture can start with a photo which I took in the city. It can also start with a memory. The next step is to make sketches of that memory and keep it in mind. When I am going to start with a sculpture, I take many photos from every perspective: front, back, and side views. If I have an old sculpture that died, I use that one as a presentation model. The next step is to take some clay and start working. I have the freedom to make a head, so I can work figuratively. If I had to work for a client, there would have been more expectations.”


“The true artist helps the world by revealing Mystic Truth” – Bruce Nauman’
Photo by: Hans Richters

Different people and emotions

“I used to live in front of a diagnostic center, so I saw many different people and emotions. For example, you see mothers breastfeeding their babies on the stairs, people crying because they heard bad news, or people being happy because of the birth of a baby. Outside that hospital I saw so many emotions that there was enough inspiration. This was not in case with Madonna. That was an internal process. If my plans work out, I would like to rent an apartment downtown again, because that is where I got all the inspiration. Like this; I can make the sculptures in my house and get all the inspiration in this apartment. I believe that it is really the job of an artist to filter all the experiences and convert them into a good piece of art.” Singers make songs, bakers bake bread, butchers cut meat, and I make sculptures of everything I have seen.” I believe that the bread the baker bakes is also a good piece of art.”

Cheese farm

The world of an artist is not always as perfect as it seems. You need to make money to survive and that is sometimes difficult. Hans is currently busy with starting his own cheese farm. One of the reasons he wants to start the cheese farm is because of the money. He needs to do something alongside, so he can go further work on his sculptures. Next year his life is going to change, because he has to stay at one place and take care for his goats. “I think that the goats are grazing here next year around May. Then I can get money from this cheese farm because my biggest plan is something else. I met an old woman in a small town; she was around 84 years old. Half of her body was paralyzed. She was the oldest woman in the small village where she lived and therefore they saw her as a chieftain. I found this woman interesting and took a photo. During this trip when I met her, I created the dream of going to all the 36 different Inca tribes in Cochabamba. I like to travel around and visit all those tribes with my mobile truck.


“It is the job of an artist to filter the experiences and convert it into a good piece of art”
Photo by: Ximena Noya

The next step is to talk with those people and hear their stories. That is going to be the story behind the sculpture. Finally, I would like to make one big sculpture with all the stories of the different tribes. That is a big dream. I can be there for a couple weeks, give workshops to the children and draw stories of interesting people. I already have someone who knows a lot about the 36 tribes and wants to help me to accomplish my dream. This dream is unfortunately not that as easy as it seems. I have to learn Quechua and the other Inca languages and I need to buy a mobile truck where I can keep all of my equipment inside, but this dream is everything I want. I am travelling; getting to know other cultures so I can make my sculptures.

The beloved railroad drink called Chuflay
The Chuflay is a traditional Bolivian drink, made from the spirit Singani, which is only produced in Bolivia’s mountains. However, its origin is not purely Bolivian.
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