We’ve been great admirers of Dutch ceramic artist Carolein Smit for years and as we failed to write about the last time we were able to experience her haunting creations in real life during her The Flatland Gallery solo exhibition in 2015, we would like to revisit her latest presentation of new work that closed last October. Named ‘Primordial Soup’, the group exhibition at James Freeman Gallery in London, presented the work of Chris Berens, James Mortimer and Sam Branton, but what stood out (for us) beyond their paintings were the incredible new creations of Smit that brought the show the true emotional tactility as promised by the theme. This motive behind the curation of the four artists focussed on trusting instinct over reason, which in the eyes of Freeman has become a rarity nowadays, with the implication being that it is a lack of discipline to be tamed. Nevertheless, unfettered magical thinking still sits at the core of the artistic practice of numerous interesting artists, allowing those creators to tap into (more and more) hidden ideas, giving shape to things that don’t make sense, but with a growing power as a subversive (and subconscious) reaction to the growing metrics-obsessed reality of today’s world.
For us Carolein Smit’s work forms the beating heart within this artistic genre that very likely will become more and more relevant in a society obsessing over numbers.
I want people to love my sculptures. I want them to loose their hearts to them and I do all I can to make them do so.
At the same time I don’t want to make this loving too easy. It’s painful, fragile, unfulfilled, and sometimes dangerous. Where are the boundaries, where does innocence become guilt? Where does life become death? That is what my work is about.
Carolein Smit‘s ceramics draw on the great well of mythological imagery that sits in the depths of our shared cultural imagination. She was introduced with the craft in 1996 at the European Ceramics Work Centre in Den Bosch and since that moment she’s been involved with contemporary ceramic sculptures, creating from a unique artistic vision. Het creations are animals abound, redolent with symbolic meaning, along with folkloric figures such as wildmen and fauns, all rendered as exquisite objects that glimmer brilliant as jewellry. While they always retain a dramatic power, there is also a slight ironic undertone, as if after so many centuries of haunting these mythic tropes had grown tired of repeating their lines. The resulting objects are both powerful and playful, balancing high drama with an endearing sense of humor.
Carolein Smit will be having an important solo exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2017.
For all information and work by Carolein Smit see here