Gunhild Rudjord and Nils Erik Gjerdevik / Copenhagen Ceramics, Denmark

Gunhild Rudjord and Nils Erik Gjerdevik at Copenhagen Ceramics

Gunhild Rudjord and Nils Erik Gjerdevik / Copenhagen Ceramics, Denmark
February 27 - March 22, 2014

The expressive potential of ceramic glazes is one of the artistic links between both artists at the year’s first exhibition at Copenhagen Ceramics. Gunhild Rudjord and Nils Erik Gjerdevik both master the capacity to exploit the particular textural possi-bilities of ceramics, but make use of them for widely differing purposes.

It might at first glance seem to be a somewhat odd combination of artists to find exhibiting new ceramic works together at the coming exhibition at Copenhagen Ceramics. But on closer inspection it becomes obvious that an interest in the expressiveness of ceramic glazes, their physical properties and colour feature strongly in the work of both artists. They are nevertheless rooted in different traditions and their approach to the use of the materials is fundamentally different.

Gunhild Rudjord was born in Norway, but trained as a ceramist in Denmark and in her career here she has mainly worked with some of the best-known archetypes of ceramics – the vessel and the dish as her ‘canvas’. She has created wonderfully decorated works where the ornamental motifs – often inspired by nature – are expressed in a more or less abstract form in an exuberant interaction with the glaze-effects of depth of colour, gloss and obvious signs of the fusing process during firing. There is a great deal of power in her works. They have the appearance of being simple but dramatic, with strong compositions, marked contrasts and – despite this – the particular softness of expression drawn by the glaze as it runs down over the surface of the pot.

Gunhild Rudjord is virtually unrivalled in her capacity to exploit the particular transformation that takes place during firing, as can be seen in a series of new wall dishes on show at this exhibition.

As far as Nils Erik Gjerdevik is concerned, the ceramic works arise from an apparently spontaneous processing of the actual material, the soft clay, into a sculptural expression. The ceramic works have, throughout his career, created a parallel track to his paintings and drawings.

His abstractions are of a special nature: one category of works are the spatial constructions, which look like free-fantasy visions in an architecturally influenced artistic idiom which, partly via the soft hardness of the material, acquires an almost surrealist feel. Construction and deconstruction take place at one and the same time. Other ceramic works unfold as large, untamed landscapes that contain an innate narrative, a blend of a clear form that at the same time apparently defies any form of interpretation: I see what I see, but what is it I see? There are many references in the works, both to former schools of art (e.g. Art Nouveau) in the formal techniques, but also elements taken from the universe of the strip cartoon. A formal stringency and a controlled chaos. First and foremost, however, his works have a presence, a here-and-now, where the response from the clay adds a quite distinctive dimension to Gjerdevik’s virtuosity.

Gunhild Rudjord has exhibited widely in Denmark as well as internationally. Among her more recent exhibitions are Galleri Moderne, Silkeborg 2013, Galleri Pagter (solo), Kolding, 2012; Himmerlands Kunstmuseum 2011 (together with Kirsten Klein) and Kunsthallen Brænderigården (solo), Viborg, 2006. She has carried out various decorative assignments, including a two-metre-high vase for Faaborg and 100 platters for the New Carlsberg Foundation. Her works are represented at the New Carlsberg Foundation; Danish Art Foundation; Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, Trondheim, Norway and Sønderjylland Kunstmuseum, Tønder, DK.

Nils Erik Gjerdevik’s impressive activities as an exhibitor include major solo exhibitions at Kunsthallen Brandts, 2012 and Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand, 2009. In addition he has had a great many showings at galleries at home and abroad – in Denmark at Galleri Nils Stærk in particular. He has also carried out a number of public decorative assignments for, including others, Erhvervsarkivet , Aarhus; The University of Southern Denmark and the Danish Parliament. His works feature in the collections of the National Gallery of Denmark, Aros–Aarhus Kunstmuseum; Esbjerg Kunstmuseum; The Danish Royal Collection of Graphic Art, Bergen Kunstmuseum, and more.

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Interview with Bente Skjøttgaard

Interview with Bente Skjøttgaard / Featured now
By Andra Baban
Published in Ceramics Now Magazine Issue 2

As a Danish ceramic artist, do you consider the living climate an important influence in your work?

I think it’s fair to say that my works have a certain Nordic nature component. Danish nature is not wild and magnificent – more one that offers quiet experiences: a misty morning over the ploughed fields; an old, dead tree; rainy weather that starts as dark streaks on the horizon; the weather clearing up after rain. Danish weather is changeable and often a cold, clammy affair, but this makes one more keenly aware of the light and small shifts in nuance.

Your work have been described as highly experimental. From the slip-cast rigorous design to the hand-built structures, you have been experimenting different body of works over the years. How do you find yourself shifting subjects and manners? Is it a continuous change?

I have never personally felt that I undertook dramatic shifts. I see my work as an on-going development, where one thing leads to the next. I will never completely finish – fortunately. While working, new ideas emerge that have to be tested. One could say that the experiments themselves ask the next questions. Ceramics has so many possibilities, and I like challenging the material and myself.

Bente Skjottgaard Ceramics

Portrait of Bente Skjøttgaard, 2010, Photo: Ole Akhøj

What influences and inspires you the most in your creation? How would you describe your current body of work?

With my background as a ceramist I nearly always have my point of departure in an idea to do with material or form. This can, for example, be new form expressions achieved by special compositions, or through cuts or glazing experiments that result in strange surfaces and textures. I often gain inspiration from nature’s formal principles and phenomena. Work takes place systematically and always on the premises of the ceramic material, but the investigations often develop into something that is reminiscent of large, amorphous nature-abstractions, with plenty of glaze. The fantastic thing about clay is that what is nature’s own material can constantly be transformed into something new and relevant.

Delicacy and sensitivity are two powerful characteristics of your work. How much do you rely on intuition and how much on unpredictability?

I make use of both in my work. Ceramics has an innate unpredictability, especially because it is out of one’s hands during the firing at high temperatures. This unpredictability is a challenging co-partner and opponent. All the time, one gets something more or less intentional for free, and from there one has to decide if and how it can be used. My intuition has probably been honed by many years’ experience of this process.

Besides a very playful approach in manipulating clay, you ingeniously use colors and assets of glazes in your work. Tell us more about the importance of color and its use in your creations.

Previously, I was mainly interested in the ability of glazes to interact and behave differently, according to the thicknesses involved. At my ‘Interglacial Period’ exhibition in Galleri Nørby in 2005, it was mainly green/turquoise, because copper is very good at producing that sort of thing. Then came the exhibition ‘Elements in White’ at Galerie Maria Lund in Paris in 2008, where I almost washed the slate clean and experimented with various textures within white glaze.
It was not until the more recent works ‘Clouds’ that I seriously explored selecting more precise colours. Here I have thought more in psychedelic colours, the colours of the sky, sunrise, violet, pink and yellow. It has been interesting to include these more ‘un-ceramic’ colours.

Bente Skjottgaard Danish Ceramics - Purple white cloud

Bente Skjøttgaard: Purple white cloud no 1002, 2010, Stoneware and glaze, hand built, 37 x 55 x 27 cm. Photo: Ole Akhøj
View more works by Bente Skjøttgaard

You are one of the initiators and directors of the Copenhagen Ceramics platform. How did this project start? Tell us more about the objectives of this new Danish movement.

The project Copenhagen Ceramics has been implemented by the ceramic artists Steen Ipsen, Bente Skjøttgaard and Martin Bodilsen Kaldahl, based on having noted that there was no longer any exhibition venue in Copenhagen where the best of the great diversity of ceramic expression existing in Denmark could be shown and experienced ‘live’. Another important aspect of the project is the Internet platform www.copenhagenceramics.com, which we wish to use to disseminate knowledge of Danish ceramics internationally.
We have planned the 10 exhibitions for 2012: 4 solo exhibitions, 5 two-man exhibitions and a single group exhibition with six of the best ceramic artists from the younger generation. The individual artists have been selected and linked together in new constellations that enable completely new artistic facets in all of them to emerge – also among those already more established.

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Emmanuel Boos and Esben Klemann: Systematic Uncertainty / Copenhagen Ceramics

Emmanuel Boos and Esben Klemann: Systematic Uncertainty exhibition Copenhagen Ceramics

Emmanuel Boos and Esben Klemann: Systematic Uncertainty / Copenhagen Ceramics, Denmark
February 28 - March 28, 2013

In ceramics the unknown is a fate for the practitioner. Emmanuel Boos and Esben both welcome unpredictability. Moreover they are provoking it. They share a playful and experimental approach to the ceramic material and their works are bred from a great curiosity towards the processes of the material.

Emmanuel Boos, now living in London, was born and grew up in France. He trained with Jean Girel, one of the big names in French ceramics, known for his works with beautiful textural glazes. Emmanuel Boos equally places the glazes at the centre of his artistic practice, but goes further. He questions the classic hierarchy, where the materials as such are regarded as undifferentiated, depending on being given form, morphe, which traditionally is considered the essential part.

For Boos form is often a pretext, a playground for glazes to develop on. His interest lies with the poetic character and sensuality of the glaze, both in a direct sense as the fusion of basic materials and in the symbolic potential of this. His works are not conceptually based; rather they express a search for beauty, that strives for a form of aesthetic contemplation appealing firstly to our senses and our emotions.

For his first show in Denmark, Emmanuel Boos will be showing both plinth and wall pieces. His intent is to draw the viewer into the glaze, inviting us to meander in its depth through poetic reverie. His forms oscillate between mysterious enclosed objects – minerals with an underlying organic presence – and thin sheets of porcelain like canvases gently folding and developing into space.

The expressive heartland in Esben Klemann’s work is clearly defined by his interest in architecture, construction and material, and a constant urge to further develop the making-processes, that are essential for the expression of the final works.

On ceramics, he states: "People envisage a lot of different things when you use the word ceramics. Images of ordinary domestic items, giant-sized-vessels, reliefs by Asger Jorn, etc. Through changes in work-methods, tools and placements, I strive to add new images to the picture, believing that ceramics has the potential to offer something more and different. I purposely draw my experiences from other sculptural areas into the ceramic process, to push it all into new directions.

You may label my work non-thematic or abstract, or see it as a formal language which communicates by establishing artistically elaborated spaces and objects, that in contrast to the ordinary, inject vitality into things.”

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Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore / Copenhagen Ceramics

Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore exhibition Copenhagen Ceramics

Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore / Copenhagen Ceramics
October 25 – November 17, 2012

Artist talk: Saturday, October 27, at 2 pm.

The dish, the plate, the table and the flower. These common everyday objects and the most beloved iconic shapes from nature are framing in the lives of most people. For their shared exhibition at Copenhagen Ceramics Marianne Nielsen and Anne Tophøj are investigating why and how we value these universal expressions of culture and nature. But what is elitist folklore? What does it look like from their point of view?

Marianne Nielsen occupies a very special position in Danish Ceramics. She takes interest, in an almost nerdy way, in the role of nature in our culture. In recent years her work often has concluded in definite renderings of natural subjects: mountains, feathers, leaves and now flowers and plants. As a kind of souvenir they refer to something beyond ourselves, being continuous, universal and something which, through its authenticity, contains an essential beauty. Yet, the representations of nature are about ourselves, since they only acquire their meaning through our very own gaze.

Marianne Nielsen articulates this: ’Flowers hold a modest position in the arts as something banal, soft, often assigned the subordinate part. For these pieces I have let the flower be on its own, allowing it to make up the entire work. The works are about what is not directly present – the references linked to flowers, both as representatives of beauty and natural souvenirs. But they also deal with that particular application that has worn down the flower-motif and turned it into a cliché.’

In a similar way Anne Tophøj is working with the values and inherent meanings of things. Either because the artifacts contain specific images or symbols that pass on a story or message, or by suggesting a particular use or way of handling.

Characteristic of her work she investigates the dish and the plate, objects that we are all very familiar with and make daily use of. As she herself puts it:The plate and the dish are signs of human culture and how we raise ourselves above the animals; they are pivotal in all eating rituals and our daily meals. Artefacts that we all have in common – universal, banal, indispensable tools helping us to sustain life. They are beloved and treasured objects that different cultures and times have shaped endlessly for use and for ornamentation, for the table and for the wall.”

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Bodil Manz and Bente Skjøttgaard: Cuts and Interventions, Copenhagen Ceramics

Bodil Manz and Bente Skjøttgaard: Cuts and Interventions, Copenhagen Ceramics

Bodil Manz and Bente Skjøttgaard: Cuts and Interventions, Copenhagen Ceramics
2 – 25 February 2012.

Wheel-Tracks in Clay Meet Sampled Porcelain
Opposites will meet when Bodil Manz and Bente Skjøttgaard, two of Denmark’s well awarded ceramists, convene in their upcoming exhibition, ’Cuts and Interventions’. They belong to different generations and traditions, but for this show, they have decided to explore possible common denominators. The result can be seen and experienced from February 2 – 25 at Copenhagen Ceramics, the new gallery for contemporary ceramics in Copenhagen.

In their first ever co-exhibition, two of Denmark’s very distinct artistic profiles have decided to explore possible common denominators in their otherwise very contrasting work. The title of the show, ’Cuts and Interventions’ is referring to the characteristic manner, in which both ceramists are handling materials and working-processes.

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Marie T. Hermann

Marie T. Hermann's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“Looking around Marie Torbensdatter Hermann’s most recent exhibition of work, we may well have a similar feeling: that we are in the presence of pots that don’t quite need us. They are just fine on their own, thank you. Poised atop their handmade clay shelves, microcosms like the implacably calm still life paintings of Morandi, or set out in a neat ring on the gallery floor, these ceramic sculptures have a quiet assurance, an ease that belies the difficulty of their own making.

You almost have to remind yourself that it’s by no means easy to create this sense of completeness. The usual way of doing it is to make objects that are resolutely alien to everyday experience: the abstract geometries of De Stijl, the weird and hermetic object-poems of the Surrealists, the industrial quality of Minimalist sculpture, or the unearthly light and space created by artist James Turrell. While Hermann’s work is influenced by all of these art historical references, she appeals to something more humble and humane than any of them.

While her commitment to achieving a unified aesthetic impression is total, it seems to me that her greatest interest as an artist comes at the level of the detail. Yes, she knows she must (according to some modernist logic) ‘earn’ the right to create an interesting shape, like a sharp break in the profile of a vase, or a gentle curve in the rim of a plate. For her, these subtle touches have to make sense within an overriding context. There is nothing whimsical about them. But all the same, Hermann infuses these little maneuvers with a great deal of enjoyment – just as the slight sway of a violin or the mournful swell of an oboe might convey the emotion that a composer feels for his own symphony. Hermann’s pots may inhabit worlds of their own, and to that extent they stand proudly and resolutely apart. But through the deft and playful touches that are everywhere in this exhibition, we are let into something very human indeed: something not too far from bliss.” Glenn Adamson, Head of Graduate Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, about Marie T. Hermann’s work.

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