Carolein Smit (* 1960), a Dutch woman living in Belgium, is one of the most exciting contemporary artists working with ceramics. Her sculptures are exclusively figurative, extremely detailed and covered with glossy coloured glazes. She is known for her animal figures, which at first glance appear lovable and cute. On closer inspection, however, details such as bright red drops of blood and the human-like, emotionally charged posture surprise us and the whole thing suddenly seems deeply moving. This ambivalence and irritation of the familiar runs through her entire work: we are impressed, enraptured by the glittering surfaces, the true-to-life details and at the same time horrified by the sometimes macabre performances. Again and again, Smit thematizes the traditional vanitas motif – skulls and bones are part of her established repertoire. She is also interested in spirituality and the Christian cult of worship. In the exhibition we show the group of figures ‘Pieta’ and a large relic skull, which is studded all over with supposed gems. Female nudes such as ‘pearl tears’ and ‘drowned’ bear witness to the examination of the human psyche. But here, too, the artist goes far beyond pure showmanship, for details that cannot be deciphered always raise questions.
In the Benelux countries, Smit has enjoyed a great reputation for years, and in 2010 she will have a retrospective at the Kunsthalle Rotterdam. In 2015/16 she will show her ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. We are therefore all the more pleased to now present a comprehensive selection of her sculptures from recent years in Berlin.