Tania de Bruycker Ceramics Art and Perception

'Living Water'

An opposition between the appearance and the fabrication
Eirik Gjedrem belongs to the top of the contemporary Norwegian ceramists. At first sight his works look surprising because he is incorporating in his work apparent irreconcilable oppositions.
We all know how much ceramists like to reflect something of the petrifying of the earth that happens by the mediation of the fire but this is not the case in the works of Eirik Gjedrem: this ceramist combines water and fire.
This strange approach should not be important on its own if this apparent contradiction did not contribute to a different expression of the whole.. The glazes - among them much Bariumglazes - become, under the influence of the light on the forms glassy. Many specialist in the art of ceramics get stuck into the work with amazement to assure himself the piece is really made of clay and glazes and not made of glass.
The best pieces testify, despite their mass of a surprising lightness, a playfullness and elegance. In addition with a refinement of details, a pleasing naturalness, a warm glaze, power and dignity in the form all the elements who can form together a masterpiece are ready.

What try artists to express by form (and the compilation)
When I was a student I used to be in the company of two friends. There outward as much as their characters were opposisites. The first was strong and atletic. The other had hardly a muscle thicker as a thin vein, nor had the second more model as a slight berch. The first one was a dynamic, goal-oriented, extrovert personality, with golden shining eyes and full of energie. The other seems more like waving grass, apparently without direction. His living eyes showed an introvert glance.
Both friends painted trees during a long long time. It was striking that the atletic friend concentrated himself almost exclusively on the trunks. He painted them as woods full of cleaving black and white shadows. The other concentrated himself on the top of the trees and on the rich and varied coloured spots the sun evoked in the leaves. Both friends said they were interested in the analysis of the nature of trees. Finally, both friends expressed nothing more then their personal temper, their soul too, others say, their unconsciousness, I heard, their total being I say and they did this by choosing an apparent weekday subject: a tree. The expression of such a total being is in Japan since year and day subject of art. They even give a hierarchy to the different ways of consciousness and art critic concentrates on this laws like for example in this example of the calligrapher Ryokan: 'The calligraphy of Ryokan was the result of his everyday temper, the waves of his emotions. His brushstrokes showed a clear image of the man: pure and instinctive, freewheeling, fresh, each day grounded in a smooth-flowing reality.'

The reality of Eirik Gjedrem
The reality of Eirik Gjedrem consists of a fusing of the two examples described above: by modelling the different appearances of water he gives birth to the formal expressions of his different states of mind.
In a next chapter I will analyse attentively the different states of minds in his work but first I want to sum up the elements which fascinate him about water and which makes it a well of inspiration.
Water is everywhere, in our environment,in our body, also the animals and the plants consist mainly of water.
Eirik Gjedrem discovered by looking attentively to water and its appearances that the oral description, ressembles to the terms we use for the description of the human temper. We can find it vivid and clear, jolly splashing, till water that drained away in spongy sand and who leaves behind deep black yawning openings, a chilliness of live that has been.
Eirik Gjedrem learned also a lot about the influence another form can have on the agility of water. A square container makes sloshy water stop moving much faster than an oval container. A pipe with a spiral makes pouring water increase in speed.
Water is always on the move and movement is life: 'Panta Rhei' said Heraclitis in the fifth century before Christ. This means: 'Everything streams' and it also means ' all things changes all the time, everything is constantly in generation also the decline. The whole of appearing and disappearing can be seen by excellence in the moving stream and is a reproduction in miniature of the way our universe and the world is constructed.
His interest for water and her appearances has been waken up after reading a book of the Australian nature philosopher V. Schauberger. This man describes how water makes patterns and forms in our environment. It is the water that stuctures our environment.
The tangible and untangible of the water evokes in the maker connotations with the subconscious and the consciousness. When he flows in the Norwegian waters doing some scubbadiving he is each time touched by the feeling of weightlessness and isolation, by the feeling to be a part of the big living water whole and her life.
Finally clay has a number of qualities which ressembles to the qualities water has and this also is an interesting subject of investigation.

The different types of work and the linked temper or states of being
If you look to the work of Eirik Gjedrem you have to imagine yourself each time what kind of water form he expresses. Is it vivid or not, which light is playing at the surface, what sound do you personally think these water makes. There are a lot of possibilities of liveliness possible. I'll give you some examples which appear in the work of Eirik Gjedrem: kindly ripling, splashing and softly pressing, moving in big whirls and without noise, with fierce clattering streaming or swirling , strong and clear but calm enough to permit itself a certain playfulness, swerving of her route or ... absent ... only leaving an impression of the water that ever has been present.
The whole of liveliness, lightgames on the surface, noise, structure of the surface, rhytm and translucency gives us the impression of a living organism we easily associate ourselves with.
Because the form of the structure influences the final result, it is a necessity to analyse attentively how surface and form react one on the other.

We distinguish five different forms of expression in the work
A first series shows us forms looking like dishes turned upside down. The air seems to hang heavy like mist under the dark form. The surfaces of this sculptural forms differ a lot one from the other. In 'Desire' there is no appearance of water anymore on the surface. Only the black holes through which it disappeared remembers the ancient presence of water.
The absence of water concentrates all life in the form itself. Nothing is allowed to go outside. There is an enormous concentration of energy in the sculptural body and an incredible tension in the form: the torsos is bended as if it was flogged by a medieval instrument of torture.
In 'Yin-Yang', you can see how the form bows just like a protecting arm over the earth. The form points on to the earth. The bended surface is wide and egg shaped: a sky rame or a contemporary parachute. The sides turn as warped levels to the sky, ready to grow and to cherish the sun.
The waterstructure seems to ripple endlessly. In this work, structure and form walk together very peacefull.
The second series carries wthout doubt my personal preference. Here, powerfull forms appear with references to dishes or pots. These are generous forms, solid and with a remarkable elegance due to the pentagon form.
The pentagon is a form which has a solid base. In the same time this form gives us expectations. It is the form between the square and the hexagon. Square and hexagon have mirror images: they give a peaceful feeling because every line of the profile has its corresponding line at the overside of the halfway line. The pentagon does not have this mirror image. That is why it looks so vivid, why you caanot stop looking at it as if you are always expecting to discover something.
The form is not completely catchable, neither is the picture of the waterstructure on the surface . It appears and disappears all the time. In this series the waterstructure is very alive. Spring is in the water, we ought to say. Some examples of this series is 'whirl', 'Cully', and 'Swivel'. 'Well' sucks the water down in a spiral form. Shadows and undefinable depths are the result. This very adult series belongs for my estetical sense to the high terms of consciousness of the Japanese art critics: a mix of earthen power and heavenly lightness - the creation of a formal link between the whole and the detail.

The third serie exists of independent sculptures. 'Wrinkle' is an example. It is a swallow slightly spiral form with a stong presence. The water seems to dash at the outer surface and it pushes slightly the form... in vain. The form listens to the pressing water. Finally it stays alone, solitary, a rogue.

After that there is a lethargic serie. The forms are lazy and deep and the waterstructure is as lethargic as the form: form and waterstructure are one. These are dream images and they evoke the connotations with hot summerdays in full nature. Their names are'Oase' and 'Meander', a derivative of 'Maiandros' a heavily twisting river in small-Asia.

The last series finally is completely the opposite of the fourth one. Here the form is light, almost inexistant and so is the waterstructure. 'Snakedish' is an example of this.
As you can see, there is an enormous diversity, linked with the same number of every day moods. Depending on your own temper you'll prefer this or that series.
I love the work of Eirik Gjedrem and I find him an exciting artist. His work is purchased by numerous museums. He is a vivid artist and an artist in constant evolution. Listening to his inner voices he tries to express new sounds each time in material form in a way which can be followed by the attentive spectator.