On show: Florescentia by Jan de Wet

The ceramicist’s latest body of works explores life, death and symbolism through a captivating series of stoneware seedpods.

Architect turned functional designer turned artist Jan de Wet is no stranger around these parts. We’ve admired his work since the moment it emerged into public view in 2020 and in just under 2 years the whole world is sharing in this creative talent. Having signed with French gallery Artskop 3437 last year, Jan’s ceramic works are gathering a following abroad.

Currently on exhibition at Galerie Revel in Paris, Jan’s new seedpod vessels form part of Florescentia, his solo exhibition that portrays his continued love of the natural world. Turning to nature and the outdoors as part of his daily ritual, Jan often finds that it’s on the mountainside, or in the depths of the ocean that he draws inspiration for his works. This time, his five stoneware pods are accompanied by a series of original ink and charcoal sketches, artworks in their own right, which give another dimension to the collection.

Both expressive and emotive, the seedpods are a study in three-dimensional shape, sensitively capturing the magic in form and texture. But it’s more than shapely expressions in clay that interest Jan. For him, it was the symbolism of these plants which fascinated him and their meaning in cultural and historic contexts like ancient Egypt and Buddhist and Hindu religious practices. It’s also their representation of life, death and the phases in between. In each, the plant’s life cycle is captured, echoing our own fragile existence and the certainty that life is transient and should thus be celebrated. Given the framework of our own pandemic-tainted existence, this is a sentiment he is particularly drawn to at the moment.

Through his exploration of these themes, the meaning he infuses his pieces with and the expression he brings to clay, his works supersede function and fine art and exist firmly in the collectible realm.

View Florescentia online until 1 February 2022.

Words & production: Mila Crewe-Brown and J-P de la Chaumette
Photography: Jacobus Snyman
Stylist: Lana Fredericks

Latest stories in Culture.