Who doesn't know the paintings of the Milanese Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo? His eccentric and comical work–imaginary portraits in which the faces are dense collages of vegetables, fruit, fish, books or baskets–was much appreciated amongst royalty and the nobility. His paintings ended up in Cabinets of Curiosities, where they were a welcome addition to collections of natural history. Fruits and vegetables were perishable, but in painted form they could still be archived in surveys of the earth's treasures.
The art of collage remained dormant for centuries until the Dadaists and Surrealist breathed new life into the genre. In his collage novels, Max Ernst employed created Loplop, his alter ego in the form of a birdlike creature. René Magritte used images cut from books and magazines for many of his works on paper. The Surrealists put collage on the map as a medium in its own right that continues to inspire artists today.
Wietske van Leeuwen (1965) has been making three-dimensional ceramic collages–or assemblages–for years. Raw, formless clay is no use to her. She must first mould it into fruits and other objects before she gets to work. Among the items she casts in multiples in clay and arranges in rows or stacks are shells, lemons, bell peppers, coiled rope and the stems of drinking glasses and weeds such as hogweed. The resulting objects are usually dishes or lidded pots. This makes her a classic ceramicist with a style all of her own. Writers have compared her work to pastry, but they are actually showpieces: centrepieces that function as conversation pieces.
Press release courtesy Brutto Gusto. Text: Thimo te Duits.