when ruan hoffmann and i first became acquainted with one another, it was a wonderful story about synchronicity in the age of the internet. if you aren't aware of it, the internet is truly a spirit weaving its magic through our life strata.
ruan and i chatted away, across time zones and continents and during these brief emails, the idea for tiles by him but in a form that could be available for tile installations started to brew. we now have limited editions of ruan's most recent tile art. his previous fans responded immediately to these works. and his new fans seem to want to know more about this exciting artist and his new tile project at clé.
when i became familiar with ruan's work- i had the worst case of art collector's blues- i wanted to own a lot of his pieces, all at once. that is still a big goal of mine, and now with his new collection of tiles for clé, i and other's can now have a collection of his works in a manner that is both artistic and functional. what is better than that??
over a year ago, ruan answered some questions about the work he was working on at that time. he was busy with his upcoming one-man show for anthropologie and another in cape town. both shows were a smashing success! i am reprinting the interview below- and recommend you click here to see more of ruan's previous artisan tile endeavors.
TE: OK, first let me say- I’m an instant fan of your work having been struck by your images and the way you handle your materials. Can you tell us how long you’ve been creating with clay and why you selected that as your medium?
RH: Roughly about 20 years working with ceramics or rather playing with clay ( this is probably why I’m still interested and excited about the medium) I started with classes while still at school but I was terrible,I was never interested in working on the wheel or making coffee mugs etc. and bored to death to learn all the technical details and what not to do’s, I just enjoyed playing with clay it’s a versatile medium and I’m curious.
TE: I see that you are based in Johannesburg. Is there a ceramic tradition there?
RH: Yes there is, but on the specialized ceramic fine art side hardly anything.( that I’m interested in )
TE: What/who would you say have been your biggest influences.
RH: Picasso ,I was a bit of a “Picassette ” when I was younger because his influence is so enormous and covers so many mediums, not only in clay but in all his work he dominates and still does something which instantly spoke to me then and still does.
TE: Your most unusual influences?
RH: Well,my life turned out to be pretty unusual ( thank god ) and almost all my work is to some extent autobiographical.
TE: Tilevera’s facebook “Daily Tile” recently featured one of your tiles. It is still one of the most memorable to me. Your images are both primitive and provocative, qualities that always captivate an art crowd. How would you say these qualities are managing to find interest in the design world?
RH: Strong design is just that, it transcends mediums and these images could easily translate into any other medium. I’m not a purist and feel that anything that brings art closer to people I should like to explore. Artists like Dufy did this and then companies with great vision always call on artists for fresh ideas and a radical new approach. I’m thinking of Ascher Studio London, a memorable collaboration between fine art and industry.
TE: Your tiles seem very singular. Do you envision your tiles as multiples or in a full installation of tiles, and if so- what would that look like for you?
RH: They are one offs’ to be enjoyed as you do a picture or sculpture,but I’m wildly excited about the possibility to do multiples and to design a range of bespoke tiles, I would also still love to do large tile panels.
TE: One of my favorite lines describing your work was an article that referred to your plates as “jagged little pills” and then went on to aptly mark the contrast of your work against the tradition of ceramics’ and its “modest reputation: domestic, rustic, useful, humble”. How does that description fit with your own intentions?
RH: My work is art.
TE: I see that you have recently collaborated with Anthropologie. Can you tell us about those efforts?
RH: Anthropologie has been selling my work in the US for a year now and I have a solo show in June/July at the ( Anthropologie ) gallery in New York which Keith Jonson curates the shows for. This will be work made during the last quarter of 2010 and the first of 2011.
TE: Would you describe a typical day in the studio for you?
RH: At this stage exhausting, my Cape Town exhibition opens on 3 March and when I get back to Johannesburg the final work for the Anthropologie show will have to be done. But I would not want it any other way, I’m lucky to love what I do and to be doing it.