Persona September, 22nd 2023 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 433 - Natasja Alers

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 433 – Natasja Alers
Natasja Alers makes ceramic work. You can touch her works, sit on them or lie on them. Natasja wants to share with the viewer her own tactile experience of ‘making’.

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I saw her work in the GoMulan Gallery in Amsterdam, where she had a duo exhibition with Jarik Jonkman. The exhibition was called ‘Metamorphosis’; both artists are, each in their own way, inspired by metamorphosis. I sat down on one of her works, which was allowed, a semi-circular bench sculpted from prints of organic shapes reminiscent of body parts. A little further on there is a figure of about two meters, which was made according to the same train of thought.

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Counterpart of digital life
Natasja was happy to provide some explanation. Natasja: “My works such as Breast Party and Hug Sculpture are intended to be touched, sat on or lay on. As a visitor, you can even contribute to some works that help shape the work, see the sculpture Nipple Vase. I see tactility as a counterpart to our digital lives and create work that invites the viewer to slow down and become aware of their own physicality and environment.”

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For the Metamorphosis exhibition she has created a number of new works, such as two smaller works such as a bust, but also two wall sculptures. “For me, it’s actually a kind of painting; I also call it clay paintings, where I really apply glaze, as if I have a painting in front of me. In any case, the glaze plays an important role in my work, because I play with the appeal and tactility of the work. Especially with works that hang in front of you at eye level, you have to include a glaze in the story.”

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Why is tactility so important to her?
“I think it is important that as a viewer you are taken along by a work and you can experience it, even though it can be intense. If a work really establishes a relationship with the viewer, I think you are in the right direction.”

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She once saw a work by Richard Serra near Basel. “I immediately went to touch the work, an angry attendant came up to me and tapped me on the fingers. From that moment on I decided to make work that could be touched. I notice that many people find that very scary or do not dare to sit at work, precisely because we are so used to keeping our distance from works of art.”

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Does she have a key work?
She needs to think for a moment. “Phoe, I think it’s a work from what I made for my graduation at the Rietveld Academy. The work was actually a kind of self-portrait, but I only discovered that later haha! It is a lying figure, missing the arms, but also a lower leg. When I was 17, I feared that my leg might be amputated because I had bone cancer. In fact, that is also the starting point of the sculptures that I am now making, which are often about the body, but it is also about inner pain, which I sometimes find difficult to express in words, but which I can incorporate into a sculpture.”

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Collaboration with other artists
Natasja Alers graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 2012, majoring in ceramics. She had known for a long time that she wanted to become an artist. It started when she first came into contact with clay around her 8th birthday. “I immediately fell in love with the material and it never went away.” She currently has a permanent gallery in Antwerp. She collaborates with several artists, including Alfhild Külper, an artist/designer who mainly works with textiles. “We are going to create very beautiful projects together where touch is central.” She is also preparing a project in the outdoor space, which will soon be launched at the Dutch Design Week.

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Her work has previously been on display at the following locations: Design Museum Den Bosch, Artzuid, PAN Amsterdam, Collectible Design Fair, Enter Art Fair and foreign exhibitions and fairs in Berlin, Brussels, Antwerp and Copenhagen. In addition, she participated in a residency at the European Ceramic Work Center in Oisterwijk in 2022.

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1) Breastparty XL, StudioLNDW, ArtZuid, Amsterdam, 2 – 8) other sculptures and clay paintings Nastaja Alers, 9) portrait Nasasja Alers, 10) sculpture Natasja Alers 

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