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VIVIAN VAN BLERK

A Dry Season
Medusa
Cow in a tight spot
Raft
Gluttony
Eden Park - That was Smith Street
Transmigration of Souls, Tweni Beach
Dutch Wedding Portrait
Landshark
The Architect dreams
Hausmann's Folly, alone

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

Archipel

 Avec « Archipel » Vivian van Blerk imagine  toute une  nouvelle série d’îlots formés d'éléments d’architecture, véhicules abandonnés et autres ruines, derniers témoins de la présence de l’homme sur terre,  envahis par  les restes de nos déchets mais aussi nouvellement colonisés par toute une faune et une végétation aussi bien terrestres qu’aquatiques.

Ces nouveaux micro écosystèmes  sont parfois reliés entre eux par des bancs de méduses assurant ainsi une nouvelle  solidarité animale.

La notion de temps n’a plus aucune importance, la notion de bien ou de mal non plus.

 

Pascal Odille

Expert CNES - Paris, Avril 2022

_B7A1534.JPG

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Ghosts of Futures Past

2022

Between being modeled and finally glaze fired, ceramics enjoy an ephemeral in-between life.

 

These panted clay sculptures gather in an installation. The moment is captured on photographic film.

Afterwards each piece is fired. The gouache and acrylic paint applied to the clay for the photograph  burns away and they emerge from the kiln wearing a new and permanent ceramic glaze.

Whe pieces are dispersed, the photograph remains as a trace of the diasappeared past.

Ghosts of Futures Past, Colour photograph, 105x100cm.jpg

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2020 - Miscellaneous months

Clay is such a rich medium, a ceramic artisan can spend a lifetime to discover and use only a fraction of its endless formal possibilities. As an artist coming late to clay, I do not aspire to replicate the patiently acquired craft of a potter, yet neither can I let myself settle into one narrow groove when there are so many potential languages available.

 

The fifteen months following the giant installation of vanities in Beyond the Vessel have been dedicated to varying themes and forms and other technical approaches, to discover new roads down which I might travel further.

This is also the groundwork to ultimately combine ceramics with photography.

The Glade / La Clairière

The Glade / La Clairière

Stoneware and porcelain ceramic group

The Glade (detail)

The Glade (detail)

Stoneware and porcelain ceramic group

The Glade

The Glade

Stoneware and porcelain ceramic group. Detail

The Glade

The Glade

"Diorama" Photograph of Stoneware and porcelain ceramic group hand coloured BEFORE FINAL FIRING WHICH ERASED THE COLOUR.

Le Malade Imaginaire / The Hypochondriac

Le Malade Imaginaire / The Hypochondriac

Porcelain

La traversée du désert

La traversée du désert

Stoneware. Porcelain elements.

Narcissus on the Styx II

Narcissus on the Styx II

Porcelain. Mirror.

Narcissus on the Styx

Narcissus on the Styx

Porcelain. Mirror.

Narcissus on the Styx III

Narcissus on the Styx III

Porcelain. Mirror.

Narcissus on the Styx IV

Narcissus on the Styx IV

Porcelain. Mirror

In a Dark Forest Lost

In a Dark Forest Lost

Stoneware

Rings

Rings

Porcelain

Finger Rings

Finger Rings

Stoneware and porcelain

The Reading Room

The Reading Room

Stoneware

Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel

Stoneware

Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel

Stonware

The Very Thought of You

The Very Thought of You

Stoneware

Adventure in the Garden

Adventure in the Garden

Stoneware urn

The Meduses

The Meduses

Porcelain wall-mounted applique

Jellyworld

Jellyworld

Earthenware wall-mounted consol. With porcelain rhino

The Meduses

The Meduses

Porcelain wall-mounted applique

Jellyworld

Jellyworld

Earthenware wall-mounted consol.

Haussmann's Island

Haussmann's Island

Stoneware and porcelain

City half a4.jpg

On the Beach

2019

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

 

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.

Stoneware, porcelain, photography. 

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Vanities II and III
Paris and Beirut

Through 2018 I explored the rich vein of formal and narrative  possibilities suggested by the human skull as a ceramic vessel.

 

A high point of this project was the month residency at Bkerzay ceramic center in Lebanon where I was able to create the bulk of the collection exhibited at the annual

Beirut Design Fair.

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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.

Vanities 1

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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.