Organic sculptures by eight international artists and designers dot Mia Karlova Galerie’s exhibition booth at PAN Amsterdam 2022. Just like the sticks, sprigs, shells, stones, and rocks that kids pick out—akin to birds foraging for twigs, leaves, and grass to build their nests—during their scavenger hunts, the pieces presented by the Amsterdam-based art gallery at the fair resemble natural trinkets that can be transposed into bespoke objects for indoor spaces. The sculptures, expertly finished by hand, are raw and unvarnished in appearance, and hence, elicit an emotional response analogous to the reaction evoked by natural entities.
The artists platformed by the gallery at the design event in the Netherlands include Jesse Visser, Valery Pchelin, Olga Engel, Femke van Gemert, Vadim Kibardin, Jan Ernst de Wet, Voznicki, and Jonne Stout. Founded by interior designer and curator Mia Karlova in 2020, the eponymous gallery operates with the intent of platforming sculpture artists experimenting with salvaged materials to create functional objects that are sustainable. The gallery’s selection of eight artists for the 35th edition of PAN Amsterdam adheres to this accreditation. “We bring collectible design and functional sculpture along with contemporary art to the wide audience of PAN Amsterdam. The collection on view includes eight artistic practices from six countries,” says Mia Karlova.
Founded in 1987, PAN Amsterdam is an annual art fair that welcomes gallery owners, art dealers, and antique collectors to present sculptures, paintings, art and design works, jewellery, furniture, and objects that tell stories of various cultures and times. The 2022 iteration of the event hosts more than 110 international galleries and art dealers and is on display till November 27, 2022. Sitting in the midst of design and art creations by makers from across the globe, Mia Karlova Galerie’s showcase at the fair harmoniously blends in with the myriad artistic creations. The works transmit soulful stories—both personal as well as those pertaining to nature.
Karlova asserts, “Every work in the booth is a storyteller. As in contemporary art, contemporary design is not only about functionality and aesthetics, it is concept, an artistic reflection and a story to share. These stories reveal layers of deep meanings which would grant a different level of appreciation.”
One of the presenters at the gallery’s booth, Vadim Kibardin, a renowned industrial designer, artist, researcher, and craftsman from Prague, showcases his material-driven approach with his Black Paper collection. The sculptural series, four of which make a show at the fair, are crafted out of recycled cardboard and make for functional entities that can be used as furniture. The stacked cardboards, shaped into sofas and chairs by hand, make for aesthetic objects that concurrently communicate innovative methods of achieving circular economy.
Textile artist Femke van Gemert’s wall artworks address the subject of excessive waste production and its dissemination. Having worked in the fashion and interior design industry for several years, she eventually built her own practice, wherein she evaluates the tactility, texture, and beauty of discarded textiles, and turns them into art. Against the concerning consequences of fast fashion, her artworks make a mark with their aesthetics and messaging.
French artist Olga Engel’s LOVE sculpture is a minimalist piece crafted out of metal and covered in marble powder. The letters of the word ‘love’ are shaped in such a manner that they hang freely and lazily—like ropes or folded clothes on a hook—a bit tired with its correct and incorrect overusage, yet always ready to make a presence. Imbued with a tint of playfulness and irony, the sculpture perfectly depicts the artist’s oeuvre.
Straying away from solid and opaque objects, product designer and interior designer Jesse Visser’s Beacon of Light is a literal translation of its name. A luminous sphere made out of sandblasted glass is held like a pendant light with the help of a jute rope, supported by a natural stone block. Employing the pulley system, Visser’s lighting design induces a sense of calm and metaphorises the fragile, miniscule, and transient point of balance in this world of uncertainty.
Architect, sculptor, designer, and carpenter Valery Pchelin’s Drifters is a unique experiment in wood. With Drifters, Pchelin aims to materialise the concept of motion. His dynamic sculptures resemble living beings that are ostensibly engaged in combat. The objects are a product of the meticulous construction and assembly of various wood components. The Drifters achieve their goal by opposing the carving process. They are a metaphor for resistance against the conflicts life presents us.
South African designer Jan Ernst de Wet’s organic ceramic sculptures, on the other hand, serve as an ode to the beauty of the world and all its natural offerings. Much like his previous works, the Flux collection, comprising table lamps and a table mirror, too, are inspired by natural elements that dot Cape Town, particularly copepods.
Andriy and Olesya Voznicki of Voznicki, a Ukrainian design practice, present a series of sculptural vases made out of chamotte, terra-cotta, and white stoneware. Having relocated to Amsterdam recently in the wake of the Russo-Ukrainian War, their works are deeply evocative of the emotions and tactility associated with the place they source their materials from.
The eighth and last artist platformed by the Dutch gallery, Jonne Stout, presents a wall sculpture comprising ceramic needles fixed upon a white canvas. The Dutch designer works with ceramic to create experimental pieces that levitate with the help of vertical or horizontal supports and shadow the space around them differently, at different hours of the day.
Apart from presenting conscious and creative designs by an array of makers and artists, Mia Karlova Galerie also participated in the fair’s talk programme PAN podium this year. During the event, held on November 25, 2022, Mia Karlova talked about design and creativity with design journalist Jeroen Junte and gallery owner and design expert Ad van den Bruinhorst.
Mia Karlova Galerie presents the works of eight artists at PAN Amsterdam from November 20 to November 27, 2022.