Johan Tahon: Albarelli for all sores / Valerie Traan Gallery, Antwerp

Johan Tahon Ceramics Exhibition at Valerie Traan Gallery, Antwerp

Johan Tahon: Albarelli for all sores / Valerie Traan Gallery, Antwerp
January 23 - March 8, 2014

In his early twenties Johan Tahon dug up in the center of Ghent a majolica milk jug. It proved to be an important discovery: it was made by the Antwerp ceramist of Italian descent Guido Andries. Andries introduced majolica in the Netherlands and in 1520 put up a kiln in the Kammenstraat, not far from where gallery Valerie Traan is now located. This accidental discovery lead to Tahon’s collection of pre-Renaissance pottery and to a growing fascination with the archetypal uses of pottery.

A quarter century later Johan Tahon is the best known Flemish sculptor with his famous white sculptures. In Galerie Valerie Traan he shows for the first time his versions of the albarello, or pharmacist’s pot, capriciously covered with white glace.
These ointment jars with their healing powers and their ancient utilitarian shape mean a lot to Tahon. He doesn’t consider these hand-molded pots to be ready-made objects, but sees them as modern variants on ancient forms that have survived over time.

With his famous white sculptures Johan Tahon became the most famous Flemish sculptor. In Galerie Valerie Traan he shows for the first time his versions of the albarello, or pharmacist’s pot, capriciously covered with white glaze. These ointment jars with their healing powers and their ancient utilitarian are of great importance to Tahon. He doesn’t consider these hand-molded pots to be ready-made objects, but sees them as modern variants on ancient forms that have survived over time.

"It gives a great freedom, a certain lightness, to make utilitarian objects," explains Johan Tahon. "There is not that philosophical burden that weighs on you when you make art. The utilitarian, the making of utensils, is a discipline in itself. For me, it refers to rituals, to primal expressions of human civilization. And yet I have never before done anything with pots."

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