Ann Van Hoey °1956 in Mechelen , Belgium
Ann Van Hoey has done more than her fair share of waiting before bringing her work to the outside world, 28 years to be precise. In 2007, she finally took the plunge, winning instant recognition from Design Flanders. Encouraged by that initial success, she entered her Etude Géométrique (Geometric Study) at the “XXième Biennale Internationale de Céramique Contemporaine de Vallauris” in the South of France. In the category of le contenant, only 7 works were selected, with Etude Géométrique being one of them. The work was purchased by a Parisian gallery, and just recently Etude Géométrique also received a Henry van de Velde label.
Etude Géométrique arose from the bowl with four corners, the square in the circle, as it were. Ann Van Hoey had the inspiration of folding thin sheets of clay when she saw origami artists plying their craft in Japan. The logical next step was the confrontation between the circle and the triangle, and then it was just a case of waiting to see how the straight line would interact with the circle: geometrically speaking it became a “biangle” or two-sided polygon, the shape of an eye.
Ann Van Hoey concludes: “I was fearful of the last step, the point versus the circle, afraid that that last step would not produce an attractive form. But thanks to the volume of the sphere, contrary to my fears, the point and the circle led to the “monoangle” or drop shape, and what is water if not the source of all life? With the hemisphere there as a base and a starting point at the other end of the installation, my Etude Géométrique was complete.”“When I made my Etude Géométrique, I thought in two dimensions, although I was working in three. I focused on the changes of the hemisphere’s rim, from circle to square, from circle to triangle… Therefore, I cut small triangles out of the hemisphere, up to a maximum depth of 4cm.
In order to keep up the thrill I now make deeper cuts and larger overlaps, which is technically more complex. Hence, my focus lies on the volume.
The changes these different cuts bring about, fascinate me. At first, I worked very symmetrically but, step by step, I felt more free, although my work still holds a mathematical logic.
The prototypes I make for Serax is much more ‘free work’, the moment’s inspiration. It’s an enjoyable variation compared to the strict and restrained work on the study of the hemisphere. The latter still fascinates me and I’m always glad I can return to it after some days of designing. I am far from finished with this...”
With nothing but a rolling pin and a few simple hand tools, Ann Van Hoey’s impossibly thin clay slabs are rolled out and cut into carefully designed puzzle pieces. These pieces are reassembled on a hemispherical plaster mold, where all seams are carefully erased. It is only after the gossamer hemispheres of clay have been assembled that her true wizardry occurs.
She makes a few deft slices in the side of the bowl, applies a thin bead of glue-like slip and with a few quick folds, secures them into their final shape.
On its own, all of this iterative, sober, logical exploration would be the basis for a solid career. Thank God that Ann Van Hoey’s work is riven with a streak of anarchy. The impossibly thin, hard-won triumphs of her signature origami bowl forms are a surprisingly good platform for her witty conceptual projects. The bowls are so resolved that they become perfect canvases for increasingly bold flights of fancy.
Van Hoey makes methodical, geometric work that betrays the touch of a human hand, yet it showcases the natural qualities of the clay—except when it doesn’t. Coating her soulful pots in countless layers of Ferrari automotive paint creates another dichotomy, that of a truth in materials cloaked in a layer of electric sex. The simplicity and integrity of Van Hoey’s forms are equal to the task of taking on the baggage that comes with such specific paint. In an age of slow food, these are fast pots.
Whether in her designs for mass-produced porcelain dinnerware or her own individual creations, there is always enough humor, paradox and high-concept mischief to ensure that her audience is rewarded by a sense of wonder and discover that mirrors her own.