In collaboration with art critic Rob Perrée, Readytex Art Gallery has developed an informative initiative: An Eye for Art. Once every two weeks Rob Perrée discusses a work of art from the collection of Readytex Art Gallery. This week he talks about ‘Vaas’ [Vase], ceramics, 28 cm wide x 31 cm high x 18 cm deep, 2014, from Hanka Wolterstorff. This will be our last edition for the time being. We hereby thank all regular An Eye for Art readers!
Hanka Wolterstorff (Hoorn, the Netherlands, 1943) simply calls this work ‘Vaas’ [Vase]. That seems logical, because it looks like a vase. Yet by doing so, she sells her work, as well as herself, short. She diminishes it by giving it the name of a utensil. I have nothing against utensils, they are necessary, but they are evaluated specifically based on their functionality. They are made for a specific purpose. That they can also be beautiful, different, original, or even visually stunning, is nice, but those are not the reasons why they end up on the shelves of stores such as the HEMA, Blokker of the Bijenkorf.
I am afraid that this vase would not make the HEMA. It is much to unpractical ánd to special for that. It contains strange edges that make it rather fragile. It would seem to me also, that the dishwasher wouldn’t do this vase any good either. Especially the colors would stand to suffer from it. At the same time, it is those exact disadvantages that are largely responsible for the quality of the work.
Wolterstorff often starts with flat slab of clay. She rolls out her clay until she has something like a piecrust. Then she starts cutting and folding. She searches for shapes that are not obvious. Because a vase conjures up a certain standard shape for most people, she deviates from that. She ‘sticks’ pieces together in such a way that they become a surprise. Moreover, and this is true for her other objects as well, she manages to add movement to a static object. She does this by applying color to the objects in a loose, almost careless manner. They run into one another as though they are still wet; sometimes they are transparent, other times they cover all traces; they seem to react to each other, but they are always disrupted by a color that doesn’t quite belong within the range. In this case light blue.
I would never put flowers in this vase. Not because it is not waterproof, I am quite sure that it is, but because it would be waste for this vase. Art simply just isn’t functional.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, November2015
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2015
Want to see this and other work of Hanka Wolterstorff ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Steenbakkerijstraat 30, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Hanka Wolterstorff please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/hankawolterstorff.
Because really looking at art and understanding art are not always obvious and easy to do, we hope that these regular reviews will at least offer you some insight into the process. You will get to see how a connoisseur looks at art, discusses it, and then links the work to others within the international art world.
Of course you can only truly judge a work of art when you are actually standing in front of it yourself. We therefore hope to see you soon in Readytex Art Gallery and are eager to hear what you think of this artwork, and which other works of art you find yourself drawn to. Please note that the artworks discussed are still available for purchase at the time that the review is published.
Rob Perrée is art historian and works as freelance writer, art critic and curator, specialized in contemporary (Afro-) American art, African art, Surinamese art and art using new media. His work has appeared in countless catalogues, books, magazines and newspapers. He is editor of Sranan Art Xposed, editor in chief of Africanah.org and a member of the editing team of Pf Photo Magazine. His website: http://robperree.com.