In her installations, Tanja Smeets explores organic growth processes. She creates an intimate dialogue between her artworks and the architectural surroundings, increasingly interweaving the structures with the architecture, until the work takes in a self-evident place and seems to continue to grow autonomously. The installations often appear to be frozen in time, in a phase between flowing and dripping, growing and budding. Like parasites, they lay a poetic layer of organic forms over the hard surface.
As a result, the artwork causes frictions in a familiar image of that space, the growth seems uncontrolled and uncontrollable, but it is actually directed very meticulously, to allow that experience to emerge. “With my images I seek that tension between the unexpected presence, the autonomous growth, the scale, the density and the apparent fragility of the work in relation to that environment. I am interested in the contrasts between the walls of concrete and brick, the sometimes static architecture, through which the soft-looking organic fabrics move. It is precisely unexpected places in a museum, or the public space, the stairwell, a blank wall in a residential environment or a waste station, that reinforce the idea that the work originated autonomously in that place.”
Inconspicuous materials from daily life, such as leaf catchers, coffee cups, Chinese sieves, spoons, or spacers, are used by Tanja in large clusters. They loose their meaning and function and become a new building material. The abundance of materials raises questions about our consumption, but also about what we deem valuable or worthless, and why. The tension that arises between this matter-of-fact presence on the one hand and the imminent danger of uncontrollable growth processes on the other, plays an important role in her work.
• Exhibitions at Galerie Bart: Overflowing Overgrowth 2021 • Liquid Garden at Zomer Expo Stevenskerk in Nijmegen 2019.
Tanja Smeets, born in 1963 in Wijchen, is a visual artist who lives and works in Utrecht, the Netherlands. She holds a degree in Fine Art from ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem. Her exhibiting experience is extensive, and her work has been showcased globally at Vizcaya Museum and Industry Gallery in Miami USA, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, USA, the Henan Museum in Zhengzhou China, IKSV 2nd Tasarim Biennal in Istanbul, Turkey, D’Days in Paris, and Autour du Jardin in Caen, France and at The Gyonggi International Ceramic Biennale, among other occasions.
Next to multiple exhibitions in art institutions and museums, her work has been added to the permanent collections of the Henan Museum in Zhengzhou, China, the TextielMuseum, Tilburg, Centraal Museum Utrecht and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. She made commissioned works for the public space of several Dutch municipalities and for governmental institutions, including the Dutch Government Buildings Agency, the Ministry of Finance and the International Criminal Court. In addition, Tanja has received various commissions which include installations for the KF Hein foundation, DIFFER, Enexis, DSM, the AKZO Nobel Art Foundation and the Radboud University.
Tanja has participated in residencies in the Netherlands, China and South Korea and resided at the European Ceramic Workcenter in Oisterwijk on multiple occasions. She has received various grands, including the Mondriaan Fund in 2021. She is often asked as a lecturer at musea and art academies. Galerie Bart has collaborated with Tanja in 2018 for a site specific installation during the Zomer Expo in Nijmegen, and shows her work in outdoor exhibition Overflowing Overgrowth, 2021 in Garden Bart.
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June edition Artist-magazine, Taiwan.
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Museum Vizcava Overload by Gina Wouters.
06.12 Dutch Culture USA Tanja Smeets and Arnout Meijer at Vizcaya Museum, editorial.
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TextielMuseum, Fringes of Beauty by Suzan Rüsseler.
First Central China International Ceramics Biennale, Zhengzhou, Contact Earth.