The magic mushrooms of ceramic artist Jos Devriendt offer a sculptural trip

Night and Day 127; 140; 130; 139; 133; 141; 105; 142; 136, 2017, all by Jos Devriendt
From left, Night and Day 127; 140; 130; 139; 133; 141; 105; 142; 136, 2017, all by Jos Devriendt, from Demisch Danant.
(Image credit: Albrecht Fuchs)

Belgian ceramicist Jos Devriendt recently staged his debut New York solo exhibition at Demisch Danant gallery, a survey of his 20-something years of exploration into what he calls ‘functional sculptures’. The show took in 90 uniquely handcrafted porcelain lamps, vessels and other objects.

The most striking pieces, part of an ongoing series, Night and Day, were a collection of mushroom-shaped lamps. Their shapes, he says, are a concept that came about over time. ‘People who are interested in sculptures don’t make a point of looking at them at night, but I think it is important because you only have ten hours’ light and the rest is darkness. It’s not just about giving light, but about the idea that a sculpture can also have a life at night.’

During the day, each of the porcelain lamps is ‘lit’ by sunlight that filters through the delicate material; at night, when the electricity is switched on and the glow comes from within, the sculptures appear transformed. When the appropriate form is found, Devriendt then experiments with different colours. ‘Abstract painters use colours to give meaning to their work; I do this in a three-dimensional way,’ he says.

Devriendt in his Ghent studio

Devriendt in his Ghent studio with works in progress ahead of his most recent exhibition, in Brussels.

(Image credit: Albrecht Fuchs)

The Ostend-born artist initially studied painting but quickly switched to ceramics, at the LUCA School of Arts in Ghent. ‘It’s not like I had a plan to be a ceramic artist,’ says Devriendt, and he admits that it took him a while to get to creative grips with the potential of clay.

Two years ago, he began driving to his home town at the weekend, painting and documenting its ever-changing horizon. Using the subtle colours of the North Sea and the sky as they appeared in his paintings, he experimented with different ways of glazing to realise the concept on three-dimensional ceramic objects. The resulting collection, Space Horizon, presented by Brussels’ Pierre Marie Giraud gallery in February this year, comprises lamps and plates, each of which has a horizon line and mimics nature’s shifting palette.

‘The transparent luminaires add a new dimension to these horizons, as they look completely different in daytime compared with night-time, when the artificial light illuminates the glazed porcelain from within,’ says Devriendt. ‘I always start from the quality of light,’ he adds, and he finds that quality in places other people don’t look. Art, as well as design, he reflects, should ‘meld aesthetics, symbolism and a state of mind’.

As originally featured in the April 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*229)

Night and Day 124; 125; 143; 145; 144, 2017, all by Jos Devriend

From left, Night and Day 124125143145144, 2017, all by Jos Devriendt, from Demisch Danant.

(Image credit: Albrecht Fuchs)

Night and Day 107, 2016; Night and Day 146, 2017; Unica, 2003; Love, 1992, all by Jos Devriendt

From left, Night and Day 107, 2016; Night and Day 146, 2017; Unica, 2003; Love, 1992, all by Jos Devriendt, from Demisch Danant.

(Image credit: Photography: Marko Macpherson)

Lamps in progress amid Devriendt’s sketches on his studio wall

Lamps in progress amid Devriendt’s sketches on his studio wall.

(Image credit: Albrecht Fuchs)

Vertical Rainbow, 2017, by Jos Devriendt

The artist’s Vertical Rainbow, 2017. New takes on the theme appear in Devriendt’s Space Horizon collection, in hues inspired by his paintings of the Ostend horizon.

(Image credit: Albrecht Fuchs)


For more information, visit Jos Devriendt’s website

Yoko Choy is the China editor at Wallpaper* magazine, where she has contributed for over a decade. Her work has also been featured in numerous Chinese and international publications. As a creative and communications consultant, Yoko has worked with renowned institutions such as Art Basel and Beijing Design Week, as well as brands such as Hermès and Assouline. With dual bases in Hong Kong and Amsterdam, Yoko is an active participant in design awards judging panels and conferences, where she shares her mission of promoting cross-cultural exchange and translating insights from both the Eastern and Western worlds into a common creative language. Yoko is currently working on several exciting projects, including a sustainable lifestyle concept and a book on Chinese contemporary design.

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