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Museum of ceramic art


Willumsen, Gauguin, Lilja.
Between Myth and Reality

29 May – 23 October 2022

In this exhibition J. F. Willumsen (1863-1958) and Jean René Gauguin (1881-1961) meet the young visual artist Klara Lilja (1989-) in a dialogue across time. Despite obvious differences, their sculptural ceramic works engage in a dialogue by virtue of a colourful, figurative and wildly imaginative idiom. In all three we find elements of both the grand and the offbeat in expression and subject matter. With bold experiments they take the arts of ceramics in brand new directions.


The exhibition turns a special focus on the processes and inspirations of the three artists in their choice of subjects, techniques and materials. Their starting points and premises for creating ceramics are widely different, their sources of inspiration many, and yet there are strong points of contact. They share an interest in the colourful glazes and firing techniques of ancient China and Japan, in the mythology and formal idioms of antiquity and in the European ceramic tradition.  Thematically, all their works revolve around the great mythological narratives, coupled with motifs from the real world.


Willumsen draws inspiration from among other sources the myths of antiquity and the iconography of ancient Egypt, and interweaves them with entirely personal experiences. Like Lilja he is fascinated by the 16th-century ceramicist Palissy’s exuberant poetic depictions of nature on ceramic dishes. Gauguin pays homage to drama and movement in his renderings of animal life, and to modern athletes and the myths of Christianity and antiquity in an expressive style that borrows  elements from indigenous Peruvian art. While Lilja’s works both embrace the traditional mythological narratives and extend into her own time, where body and nature are fused with alchemy and the occult, Korean pop culture and computer games, Japanese manga and dark fantasy.


In an a sculptural and imaginative language of form, Willumsen, Gauguin and Lilja now meet between past and present, between myth and reality.