VIVIAN VAN BLERK

There is no there there.

Gertrude Stein

Photographs are of models built, decors arranged, collages composed or of just a fleeting moment. After the photograph is taken, its temporary model is dismantled, destroyed or recycled. The moment has passed.

 

The original gone, our only access to that vanished place is through the photograph.

 

The  photograph  tantalizes. It is a door to a world where the viewer's imagination is engaged. One might wonder what happened before and what will happen next. That which  hides in the shadows or  lies just outside the frame is the artist's gift to the viewer's fancy.

 

Vivian van Blerk, Paris 2016

 

I began making ceramics in Lebanon in 2017. Temporary constructions  for photographs  become finished pieces. Even as durable sculptures , the fictions created remain sealed beneath the brilliant screen of ceramic glaze and remain   mysterious, silent and removed from us in time and in space and scale, unattainable  like worlds seen through  photographs.

Paris 2019

On the Beach

2019

A fleet of turtle arks carry life and memory across oceans to populate a long-abandoned city

 

Stoneware, porcelain, photography. 

Curated by Catherine Milner of Messums Wiltshire with Károly Aliotti of Meşher, Istanbul.

 

ON THE BEACH participates in  BEYOND THE VESSEL, an exhibition of ceramics by thirteen contemporary artists at the Meşher Gallery, 211 Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul, until 22 December 2019. The show then travels to the United Kingdom.

Vanities II and III

2018

 

After the series of Vanities shown at the Wunderkammer, I set out to create a second body of  adventurous yet disciplined  skullworlds with a view to a purely ceramic exhibition. These 17 pieces are Vanities II.

In August and September, in residency at a pottery center in Lebanon, I made ten new pieces for a solo exhibition at the Beirut Design Fair, Vanities III.

Vanities II contributed three pieces to this same show and further works to two other art fairs and to two group exhibitions, and so has become too dispersed to ever  fulfil its initial ambition of being a solo show...

Vanities I

2017

 

I caught the ceramics bug in Beirut. Returning to Paris I wanted to continue transforming simple vessels into narrative worlds. But now working alone, I no longer had raw bowls, bottles, cups or vases as bases to work on. impatient to get on and make works, I was not yet ready to learn the patient, precise craft of pottery first.

The solution was in the studio space I share with archaeologists who store all the skeletons excavated from the ancient burial grounds beneath the local church, Saint Lucien in La Courneuve. Having already photographed and drawn some of the more intact skulls, I found them not difficult to model acceptably in clay.

So my basic vessel  was the skull. It brings with it a reminder of mortality and of the memories and  feelings of life that cling to our remains. It has an outside and an inside on which stories can be told.

 

Vanities I culminated in an exhibition at the Wunderkammer in Brussels in December 2017.

 

Beasts of Beirut

2017

My introduction to ceramics came  in April 2017 when invited to collaborate with Katya Traboulsi, multimedia artist, and Hala Matta, ceramicist, at Namika Atelier in Beirut, Lebanon. I modeled relief sculpture on  forms built by Hala which were then glazed by Katya.

We worked in various stoneware clays and once in  Raku clay.

Photography acquires some of the dignity it lacks when it ceases to be a reproduction of the real and shows us things that have ceased to exist. 

 

Marcel Proust

in Swann's Way

I and My Chimney

2011 - 

The chimney hearth endures as generations  come and go, playing out their passing passions .

"The Flood Foretold",

2016

No.8 of the series of nine photographs

 
 
Buffon's Grandchildren
2011 -
 
Species have had time  to adapt to man's presence. They find niches to inhabit and even unsuspected opportunities to evolve.
 
 

Georges-Louis Leclerc 

de Buffon

 

An engraving from his Histoire Naturelle, 1753 - 1767.

 

Buffon's foregrounding of  animals against   real or fantasy environments is the mainspring for this series.

The Pests 

Colour photograph from retouched b&w negative

125cm x 125cm, 2014

 

On the Beach

Colour photographs in triptych, 100 x 240cm

Seven Capital Vices

2008

A castaway arrives on a barren coast. Before the tide rises and chases everyone off the beach, he must choose. Either he joins the Vices in their earthly passions or he scales the ruins of the church to hitch a ride on a balloon. Where they go to to is uncertain, but it is away from this infernal shore.

 

 

 

 

Hippopotamus and Destiny
2000 - 2001
 
The wild beasts' raft lands ashore long before the floodwaters go down. When the waters do recede, the animals find themselves trapped on the tallest mountain in the world where they must survive as best they can...
 
Hundreds of years later when a young mountain hippopotamus dreams of mud and sinewy rivers winding through the veld, she decides its time to find her way home.

Sphinx

Colour photograph

100 x 100cm, 2000

From a New World

2001 - 2004

 

When explorers discovered the Americas for Europe, artists  painted still-lives of sometimes real, sometimes imagined, plants and creatures, 

 

This New World is just a little further west.

 

 

 

 

Blind Fish

Color photograph from retouched b&w negative

50 x 50cm, 2001