James Freeman Gallery presents an exhibition of new works by Carolein Smit and Ray Caesar, two artists at the forefront of contemporary surrealism to explore the contradictions of the subconscious mind.
Carolein Smit, an internationally renowned ceramic artist and Ray Caesar, a renowned pioneer of digital art, create wondrously dark, deeply instinctive works of art. Both artists’ practices are fueled by a compelling and intuitive process which often leads to their artworks taking on an unforeseen shape.
Smit’s ceramic figures, both frightening and fragile, illustrate her fascination with contrasts and question the boundaries between beauty and horror. Without knowing what form her finished sculptures will take, the artist borrows themes from classic mythological and biblical tales to create characters that lurk deep in our shared cultural psyche. Despite their timeless nature, the characters tap into some of the most elemental narratives governing the subconscious.
Exquisitely detailed satyrs, skeletons, medusa’s heads, and sacrificial lambs covered with thorns and drops of blood: they are motifs that have been playing their roles for so long that they become more theatrical than fearsome. The figures often reminiscent of vanitas provide a reminder of the impermanence of life and inevitability of death.
In tandem with this show, Smit’s solo exhibition ‘Myth and Mortality: The Fairytale World of Carolein Smit’ runs at the Victoria & Albert Museum until 30 September 2018 including two site specific wall installations. Smit also has two other important upcoming exhibitions: “L’amour fou” at the Grassi Museum in Leipzig, and a solo show of the same name at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands.
Ray Caesar’s work shows manifestations of childhood memories along with the disturbing subconscious workings of the mind. Surprisingly for such intricate works, Caesar lets his intuition take “control”at the moment of creation, resulting in works that have a striking, visceral quality. His images present a cast of figures he refers to as dolls dressed in a myriad of historical costumes and interpreting a variety of cryptic roles. The environments they inhabit are as equally unsettling, with pastoral landscapes, nostalgic seafronts and neo-classical interiors where animals become human and plants come to life. He even sometimes takes to scanning his or his wife’s skin below the eyes to give his creations their sentient, pallid appearance.