South African multidisciplinary artist Jan Ernst, based in Cape Town, will unveil his new collection, the Time Lapse at PAD Paris from March 29 to April 2, 2023. The limited edition series includes seven new designs, five of which will be shown in Paris at the Objects with Narratives exhibition and the other two of which will be available online. Drawing inspiration from the natural world, Ernst crafts intriguing ceramic designs that delicately balance form and function. “Through my work, I try to interpret the themes of life and death, birth, decay and time,” shares Ernst. The fluid designs stem from an abstract understanding of form and space—a juxtaposition of his architectural background, in tandem with his South African heritage and affinity towards nature. His works have been displayed at the Collectible Salon 2022 and are part of international private collections in South Africa, France, the USA and the United Arab Emirates.
“Growing up on a farm in South Africa, I spent a lot of time outdoors in nature. Trees have always held multiple meanings for me: they are a sanctuary and a safe space. There is something inherently architectural about trees which encourages a sense of place in a way that is very comforting – after all, we build houses with and in trees! Yet woods and forests are also places of wonder and whimsy where I escape when I want to dream of different ideas and even create make-believe worlds. You can consider this new collection an ode to the tree!” shares Ernst on his inspiration behind the collection. The ‘Time Lapse’ collection comprises bespoke lighting design, with a spotlight on the centrepiece of the collection touted ‘Daydream tree’, floor light abstracted from a tree trunk. A tree trunk-like clay plinth contrasts with an ethereal floating cloud-like canopy above made of steel mesh clad in organic mull. The base is delicately hand-painted with a pattern that recalls the annual rings seen on trees, which chronicle the passage of time. All lighting elements are concealed – multiple lights shine into the base along with bulbs that softly shine up into the shade – evoking both a gentle glow and a sense of mystery in the lamp design.
Deeply intrigued by surrealism, Ernst is intrigued by surrealist painters' studies of time, it's passing, and its link to their surrounding environments in order to create illogical situations. The artist has applied this notion to craft product designs of dreamlike irrationality to treescapes manifested as two pendant lights, ‘Loop’ which depicts the slow passing of time and the melting from one hour to the next, one era into another, in the droopiness of the lamps.
The two organically shaped ‘Time Warp’ wall sconces feature elongated forms that fold into themselves to resemble the branches and stems of trees while symbolically representing the undulating pace of time. Completing the series and launching online are the two ‘Seed’ table lights; which are deliberately simplistic to echo the nebulous beginning of a tree—and by extension – the hesitant beginning of life itself at the start of time. The switching on of the lights represents the activation of life. “I wanted to bring together three distinct elements here: trees which are always evolving, the light which is ephemeral, and clay which is fixed. I was curious to experiment with uniting them; the end result is a fantasy world of contradictions that all coexist,” concludes Ernst about the collection.
Responding to the gallery’s theme of ‘Out of the Blue’, Ernst has created this limited edition collectible design in an exclusive midnight blue finish for Objects with Narratives to launch at PAD Paris in March where each design will be available in an edition of eight. From April, the works will also be available in Ernst’s trademark white stoneware finish directly from his studio.The ‘Time Lapse’ collection will be on display at PAD Paris from March 29 to April 2, 2023 Text by Ria Jha
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