Michael Geertsen //Abstract Human Pots

Preview opening on Saturday, 9 December at 13.00–17.00 // Artist Talk at 14.30

Exhibition period : 9 December 2023 - 27 January 2024

The exhibition title, ‘Abstract Human Pots’, refers to the vase as an abstract representation of the human form. Terms such as ‘foot’, ‘neck’ or ‘lip’ are widely used to describe the individual elements in the structure of the vase.

Michael has long pursued a passion for ceramic history in his work, taking a special interest in the vase as an archetype that reflects the field’s historical development. Originally an object for storage, it was gradually refined into a decorative object as a parallel to its utilitarian function. The vase is a status symbol that demonstrates a culture’s finest craftsmanship and artistic abilities.

The vase is a recurring figure in Western art history, from Greek to Roman antiquity and again from the Renaissance to neoclassicism. In ancient Greece, the prize at the Olympic Games was ceramic vases containing olive oil and decorated with sports-themed images. 

Parallel to European vase history, the vase also holds great cultural significance in Asia, where especially the magnificent Chinese vases were of the highest artistic and technical quality. The lavish Chinese vases were wheel-thrown in porcelain and high-fired, and the finest pieces were presented as gifts to the emperor. 

A common aspect of European and Asian culture is the humanization of the vase and a search for sublime form. 

Michael’s new series of magnificent vases draws on this history. It contains references to the (celadon) glazes and (openwork) decoration techniques of the Chinese vases as well as traces of the classicist expression. The status of the vase as an abstraction of the human form is underscored by Michael’s use of handles from his personal ceramic vocabulary.