In her ceramic sculptures Carolein Smit (1960, Amersfoort) satirically plays with that unknown turning point when beauty turns over in exuberance, hate in love, alienation in elucidation, and unresolved emotions in over-active sentiment. Smit borrows themes from classic mythology and biblical tales, such as greed, power and impotence, vanity, perishableness and death. Often her sculptures enclose elements like those we find in vanitas, such as skulls, skeletons, small bones of animals; all these elements symbolize our temporary presence, but, as always with Smit, she shows them with a touch of irony.
Smit, a sculptor who uses sculptural forms instead of paint, employs transgressive beauty that contradicts commonly held convictions about what makes something appealing. Her fascination with contrasts: the ugly but adorable, or the frightening but fragile, provides a reminder about the vulnerability and impermanence of life, and the inevitability of death.
Smit, who studied in the Netherlands and currently lives in Belgium, is internationally known. In the early 1990s she received three times a workscholarship by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Design and Architecture, Amsterdam and in 1993 she was honourably mentioned for the Prix the Rome. Her sculptures form part of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Asante collection in Switzerland, the Thomas Olbricht collection in Germany, the Treger/Saint Silvestre Collection in Portugal, Fuled International Museum (FLICAM) in Fuping, China and many more. Her artworks have been on show at the Bonnefantenmuseum (Maastricht), Art Basel, La Maison Rouge (Paris), me Collectors Room (Berlin), the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Rotterdam) only to name a few. In 2010 she received a solo show at the Kunsthal (Rotterdam). Smit is also part of the blockbuster exhibition ‘CERAMIX’, curated by Camille Morineau (curator Centre Pompidou) and Lucia Pesapane at the Bonnefantenmuseum in 2015 and La Maison Rouge and Cité de la céramique (Sèvres) in 2016. ‘CERAMIX’ will include more than 250 top pieces from international museums and private collections. Carolein Smit’s important solo show in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum took place in 2017.