New works by FRANK STEYAERT first shown at COLLECT LONDON 2014
I saw Frank’s work at collect in London last May for the first time. His comments on the new collection…. are set out below:
Ever since 2013, I have been developing a new series of art works. They will be shown to the public for the first time in ‘COLLECT’, in the Saatchi Gallery in London and in the exhibition ‘d’Art et de Feu – La Céramique Belge’ in La Borne.
Art lovers, familiar with the ‘shipwreck series’, might be surprised by this new work. Nevertheless, it is not a real ‘revolution’ as the works have been created with the same precision and refinement. They have been created in the same atelier, they have been inspired by the same natural environment: the Ferry house of Denderbelle, in the plains typical of Flanders, with a view on the river.
The new works are recipients with a definitely sculptural character. Their design has been inspired by nature, by the way water flows in rivers, lakes, the sea and by the way the eroding force of running water shapes the landscape and the soil. The works convey a strong sense of peace and make us dream of distant walks and of discovering endless landscapes. The contrast between large plain surfaces and vibrating reliefs mirrors the laws of nature. Their design seems simple but the works invite meditation and are reminiscent of
Japanese zen gardens.
The use of colour plays an important role in the meditative character of my work. I use only BLUE. I have devoted a year to the development of the glazes. I have opted for an intense blue colour that is cold and warm at the same time. The surface is smooth as lacquer and shiny as silk. I apply different shades of blue so as to stress the depth of the object. Transparency and the cracks in the
lighter shades of blue also determine the character of the work. I chose Blue because, to me, it is a colour that cannot be defined. It has its own weight and symbolism. It refers to eternity. In nature, blue is rare, except in the immensity of the clear blue sky
and in the water of the sea.
Creating these objects involves a lot of work. It may take up several days or up to a week to create just one object. Each work is made up of thin layers of clay that are carefully attached to each other. One could compare it to the different layers used in building a wall. By repositioning the different strips of clay, stairlike sides are created. It is a technique I also used in earlier work. The shipwrecks’ were also composed of numerous strips of clay. That way, I remain faithful to my ‘roots’: my immoderate interest in architecture.
My earlier training as an architect has always been prominent in my ceramic work. Each work is preceded by a thorough study, similar to an architectural blueprint, deciding on every detail beforehand. I make a scale model of every object. I devote a lot of attention to proportions and will only start creating when I feel happy with the volume, the curves, the light on sloping surfaces. Working in layers interests me because it reminds me of landscapes: the geological layers of rock walls, but also the way people work the land and manipulate the landscape as in terrace construction. I always integrate architectural elements into my ceramic objects. By adding contrasting, tense linear elements, I give a different meaning to my work. The spatial effects may change and evoke different feelings, sometimes putting on-lookers on the wrong track. That’s why some works are titled ‘Floating Lake’ or ‘Shoreless Island’.
Here are a few images of work from the new collection, but more can be seen by visiting his website at http://www.franksteyaert.net/nederlands/werkfrank.html :