St. Lucas Higher Institute for the Fine Arts, Ghent, Belgium
After a breather from 1989 to 1991, Rik Vandewege took up his inborn passion
for ceramics again. As a matter of fact, the main features of his overall
plastic vision strikingly come to the fore in his ceramics. His eye for reverse
models (plaster moulds) and the idea of carving graphic script on the clay surface
are recurring elements. As for his three-dimensional sculptures, Vandewege remains
consistent in his principle of "formal simplicity with complex elaboration".
In the eighties, his approach was still explicitly sculptural, and his 'compositions' were assembled of clay sheets that did not join seamlessly. After 1992, the flawless pot in its quality as an 'objet d'art' or object gained the upper hand again. His pots are not turned on the potter's wheel; they are assembled with clay sheets (sheeting technique). Rik Vandewege rolls out, kneads and moulds sheets of clay, then cuts them up and shapes them into a larger form. The processing of clay spontaneously gives rise to graphic expression, but he also adds new signs on the clay surfaces. He then resorts to a reverse plaster mould to obtain a positive clay model. He presses the scratched sheets of clay in the plaster mould. Rik Vandewege clearly dissociates himself from functional ceramics by deliberately leaving the holes and cuts that occur in the clay sheets. The firing technique-using a double-walled gas kiln-is based on the actual processing of clay. Vandewege placed a muffle in his kiln, a sort of refractory casing used to avoid contact between the product and the flames or fumes while heating it up. In this way, he can use a low-firing technique at a very high temperature (1,200° Celsius). In the muffle, the pottery is coated with tainted silt and wrapped in hay. As a result of this muffled firing in a low-oxygen atmosphere, a spellbinding spectrum of subtle mud colours and shades appear on the rough surface of the pots, ranging from brownish to light grey and dark, black hues. On the sides, faint traces of musical signs or scores can be identified. As a ceramist, Rik Vandewege does not depart from his principle of closely monitoring harmonious set-up and disposition. It is not without reason that he gives the name of "still life" to his ceramics' compositions. In an ascetic of ethereal environment, his creations are conducive to meditation and contemplation. His archetypes, his primitive forms radiate originality and reflect a trend towards asceticism. In essence, this work thrives on its ethnic or primitive dimension, which echoes the authenticity of archaeological relics.
right and middle 12x17.5cm
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