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Oscar Venhuis

In response to today’s raging pace of digital transformation, Oscar began looking for a simple yet contemporary medium that enunciated artisanship and that addressed the ambivalence of social isolation and digital connectivity. Through this process of rumination emerged very slowly a series of works made with a ballpoint pen on paper.


While the ballpoint pen is an archetypical product of our mass-produced culture, ink on paper remains the oldest and most revered art form in Asia. The distinct cobalt blue of the ballpoint pen on white paper emulates the artistic effect on pieces of both Delftware and Chinese porcelain that are reminiscent of his cultural conjunction as a Dutch-Korean adoptee. 

Oscar begins by drawing out rough outlines from his imagination in pencil, then continues with a ballpoint pen. By simply following his intuition and feeling about the drawing, a new piece emerges and slowly starts to take on a life of its own. The final work rarely resembles what he had originally imagined.


Based on Lamma island in Hong Kong, Oscar Venhuis is an artist and the producer of The Last Supper, a weekly podcast about art in Asia.

Born in Korea, Oscar spent his formative years in Groningen, the Netherlands. After his BA in The Netherlands, he was the first student to be accepted to attend the inaugural two-year MA Fashion Accessories Programme at the Royal College of Art in London but left after a year to pursue a professional career in design. In 2007, he graduated with an MA (distinction) in Design Management from Birmingham City University, UK.


Oscar has advised on two significant global art projects: “Hong Kong Eye” by Prudential and “No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia” by Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Initiative.


Medium: Ballpoint pen on paper
Dimensions: 73cm x 93cm, 2022

“We live in a ‘burnout’ society these days,” says Venhuis. The artist also refers to the book The Burnout Society by Byung-Chul Han, a German-Korean scholar and philosopher, who suggests that while the 20th century was an era of discipline, and obedience, the 21st century is the era of entrepreneurs of the self, with a prevalent fixation on achievement. Both centuries share the constant pressure to produce more.


“The difference is the change of language, one being that we ‘should’ do something versus that we ‘can’ do something,” he qualifies. “‘Can’ is more effective and positive. In our constant drive for achievement, we work manically to maximise and optimise output, leading to self-exploitation and eventually burnout.

We just can’t be ourselves anymore. To become ourselves we have to constantly keep up with doing more, getting busier and busier. This process is exhausting. We lose touch with other people and we start indulging in narcissism and self-love.”


Medium: Ballpoint pen on paper
Dimensions: 73cm x 93cm, 2022

On average, every eight minutes awake, we are distracted – that’s about 50 to 60 times during a working day. Eighty per cent of distractions are not important and it can take up to 23 minutes to regain deep focus. In the US alone, digital distractions have been estimated to cost the economy some US$650 billion per annum in lost productivity. 

In 2009, Stanford University researcher Clifford Nass found that people who were considered heavy multitaskers actually performed worse than those with fewer tasks at sorting out relevant information from irrelevant details. This is particularly surprising because it was assumed that this is where efficient multitaskers would excel. The study also showed greater difficulty from these mega-multitaskers when it came to switching from one task to another, who also proved to be badly mentally organised when focusing on just a single task. More burnout.


Medium: Ballpoint pen on paper, 2022

Dimensions: 126cm x 103cm

This artwork is recognisably a female figure, in a meditative state.


If an average brain was connected to an EEG (an electroencephalogram device for monitoring brain activity) during NSDR, which stands for non-sleep/deep rest, you will see it shift from an active beta frequency (12-35 HZ), which is where you spend most of your day and have about 35 different thoughts per minute (according to the National Science Foundation), to a conscious meditative state of an alpha frequency (8-12 HZ), and then into a deep meditation/flow state of theta frequency (4-8 HZ). In this state of calmness, the brain frequency slows, along with the frequency of our thoughts.


NSDR practice can influence the brain to operate at an even slower operational frequency (0.5-3 HZ), where only one to three thoughts per minute arrive. This state is when your brain is functioning in delta frequency, typically only occurring during the deepest of sleep. 

For more details or to request an interview with the artist, please contact Barbera Tavernard:



Phone / Whatsapp: +852 6281 1787

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