One of the great things about Tilevera’s facebook “Daily Tile” is discovering prodigious artists from around the world. We recently featured a tile from one such artist, Ruan Hoffmann, and a bit later we were delighted to receive an email from Ruan. Oh, the magic of the internet! After taking a look at his website I was immediately struck by each and every piece tumbling from Ruan’s hands, his plates, vases, tiles. I would love nothing more than an entire wall of his plates- then discovered that the artful and luxuriant Monarch Hotel in Johannesburg beat me to it.
I am committed to collecting my own assemblage, however, and would quickly caution any of you to do the same before his works are untouchable!!
So after having a fun and punctuated email exchange with Ruan, he agreed to a short interview and I readily put together the following. Like his art, you’ll find his interview stirs more questions than answers, hence Part I. I’m hoping to explore more with Ruan in a Part II interview perhaps just before he descends upon NYC with a gallery debut in Rockefeller Plaza.
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.
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.
TILES BY RUAN HOFFMANN
Ruan is off to prepare for his upcoming show in Cape Town. Hope you’ll read and view more about Ruan by clicking on any of his tiles. And if you’re in Cape Town this March-