Ten Tales of Glaze - Bente Skjøttgaard // 27 Dec. - 23 Jan. 2022

Bente Skjøttgaard

Through ten individual pieces, the exhibition presents a tour of twenty years’ artistic practice with glaze as its pivotal focus. Few artists have followed a similarly consistent path, persistently exploring a single challenge in spite of changing trends and developments. As in other grand narratives, the source is inexhaustible, and the results are rich and diverse. This exhibition demonstrates that despite variations in expression, style and references, the core of the oeuvre remains unchanged. Bente Skjøttgaard is a pioneer in the contemporary fascination with dramatic glaze effects.

TALE # 1

This Grand Vase is from the series ‘Glasurstykker’ (Glaze Pieces). Here, the formserves as a medium for the glaze with concave/convex shapes allowing the glaze to develop in a range of expressions. The form highlights the glaze, in contrast to the typical approach, where glaze is used to highlight the form. With this series, Bente establishes her trademark use of the expressive palette of the glaze as the main narrative of her objects.

TALE # 2

In the series ’Ramifications’, Bente moves from the classic vase shapes to an abstract story about nature. The quickly modulated form that introduces the branch or ramification theme gives the glaze a medium for moving, running and gathering. The glaze colours are kept to an earthy natural palette.

TALE # 3

A log – last seen in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks series, where ‘the log lady’ carries it with her everywhere, like a pet. Bent has turned the log into a vase: a log vase. Here, too, the main theme is the way the glaze flows over the form, but an unsettling, dark mood has crept in.

TALE # 4

The log theme continues in this group from the series ‘White Elements’, which explores the textural and physical qualities of glazes. The glazes mimic natural phenomena, such as snow, moss and bark, and appear soft, coarse or crackled. A new sensuous quality is at play. All the objects are carried with white glaze. The objects are abstract takes on nature in shapes that are at once familiar and alien.

TALE # 5

Here, Bente has moved beyond references to nature and vases and focuses instead on exploring tracks and traces. In this case, the tyre track of a car serves as a base for the glaze. The aqua blue glaze brings out the tyre track in an expression reminiscent of a frozen puddle. The project sends a nod to Asger Jorn’s decoration at the upper secondary school Århus Statsgymnasium, which included reliefs made with tracks from scooter tyres.

TALE # 6

Now, Bente’s work takes off from the ground, and the heavy clay floats. Nature remains her principal fascination, but here it has been cultivated and subjected to a pop treatment. Crisp colours and rich, heavy layers of glaze characterize pieces that look like bubble gum and are named after clouds.

TALE # 7

In these metamorphoses, the vase has been deconstructed to a grid, where all function has been eliminated. Layers of coloured glaze are poured over an initial layer of rich white glaze, the weight causing the layered structure to collapse. The fragile form is pushed to the limit of what glaze can bear and is at the edge of total collapse. The fragile nature of the pieces is why the series has never been shown to the public.

Bente Skjøttgaard

TALE # 8

Now, we move underwater. The glaze is applied to a flat surface and draws an underwater abstraction in a variety of glazes, pieces and surface textures. The object is a relief, where the glaze forms patterns and textures during firing in the kiln.

Bente Skjøttgaard

TALE # 9

A fullerene is a spherical carbon molecule. The structure, which has formed the basis of large architectural constructions, has now inspired a clay figure: a self-supporting abstract form that provides a taut geometric canvas for rich, sensuous glazes.

Bente Skjøttgaard

TALE # 10

Although the title takes us underwater, with this piece Bente has really returned to her original point of departure. Vase and ramifications come together in a single object, poured over with glazes in colours from nature. There is a subtle echo of Jugendstil, or art nouveau, from around the turn of the 20th century. This piece brings together all Bente’s studies of glaze on flat surfaces, grand vases, ramifications and abstractions on nature. It combines references to ceramic history with a contemporary expression that points to a future where nature is the divine and primordial power on earth.