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Gardiner Museum

Veronika Horlik

Veronika Horlik




Veronika Horlik

Ceramic, glaze, terrasigillata, wood, ink on paper, paint, metal, hardware




My sculptural ceramic practice draws on my experience working in reforestation in the Canadian North. The images and representations of charred organic material are derived from forest landscapes called burns: twice devastated land subjected to deforestation and then subsequently to forest fire. What surrounds you in a burn landscape is nothing less than surreal: a desolate environment strewn with large charred and knotted tree stumps and ‘slash’ (woody debris generated during logging operations). In these vast burned sylviculture sites, mechanical incursions mix with the strength and beauty of nature, and a constant air of devastation mixes with the possibility of magnificent regeneration. This phenomenon, drawn from the forest landscape, mirrors the human condition: moments of dejection and despair are expectantly transitory, with re-growth and renewal just around the corner.

PROUNS(SLASH) is inspired by Canada’s reforestation landscapes and by the Japanese video game Katamari Damacy.

The legend of Katamari Damacy tells the story of a young prince who attempts to reconstruct the stars and planets of the Universe, accidentally annihilated by his father the King of All Cosmos. To do this, the prince rolls adhesive Katamari balls on the ground that collect all objects in their passage. The more objects a ball accumulates, the larger it grows; from thumbtacks, to books, trees, buildings, mountains, and so on. When each ball is large enough, it is launched into space by the prince and is transformed into a new star. The poetic idea of recreating the Universe by means of terrestrial material is filled with hope and appeals to me particularly as a ceramic artist, the ceramic medium being a durable form of expression, here to speak to numerous generations to come. In our consumer society and culture of the disposable, it remains essential for artists to believe in the relevance of bringing new enduring objects into the world, objects that allow us to reflect on our past and imagine a different tomorrow.

The dark spherical ceramic form in PROUNS(SLASH) echoes the knotted and burned tree stumps left over after a forest harvest and subsequent forest fire. Colourful panels, partially inserted into the sculpture, give the appearance that they have cut and penetrated into the surface of the ceramic mass. The images presented on these panels are drawn from the Canadian reforestation industry. In a reflection on reforestation, the resulting ceramic form undergoes both a literal and figurative fragmentation and reconstruction.




Veronika Horlik, MA (McGill), MFA (NSCAD), is a Montreal ceramic artist who divides her time between her studio practice and teaching both Visual Arts/Ceramics at Cégep John Abbott College and Art Education at McGill University. From 1995 to 2008, she worked in seasonal reforestation in Canada’s forestry industry. Veronika’s recent and upcoming solo exhibits of sculptural ceramics include shows at Galerie d’Art d’Outremont (Montréal, 2013), Galerie du Parc (Trois-Rivières, 2014), Salle Aquilon (Sept-Îles, 2014), Salle d’exposition municipale (Baie-Comeau, 2014), and Centre Culturel de Verdun (Montréal, 2015).




Where are you from?

Quirky tidbit about you:
I'm never not an artist.

Northern forest landscapes
Difficult tasks
Physically demanding work

Intolerance (especially when it' s based in ignorance - drives me crazy).
Violence (in all its forms).

What are your biggest influences?
Craft History
Paul Klee
Moholy Nagy  and Lissitzky
Anni & Josef Albers

What are your weirdest influences?
Catching a glimpse of the intricate beautiful crystallization of a snowflake on my coat sleeve before it melts away.

What is the craziest thing you’ve done for your work?
Mortgaging everything to pursue my art practice.

Why do you work with ceramics?
Clay is the smartest material we have ever worked with on this earth.
Ceramic works speak to us from distant past civilizations, have something to record of today's world, and will be here to speak to generations to come.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
The forest industry's activities in Canada's North.
The sculptures of Ken Price and Dennis Oppenheim.
Letting the materials I work with have a voice, a role to play in what the artwork has to say.




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