The sculptures made by Sjaak seem to be creatures of the imagination in which the human aspect has been united with animal features. Fantasy and humour, transparent and punctuated with colour. Far away from reality and not swayed by the issues of the day.
They look like visions from a dream. However, the intention of the double faces in his sculptures is a different one. As visibly manifest as the two faces are, as easy would it be because of their exterior beauty to pass over their ethical import and their meaning.
In his sculptures Sjaak exposes the tension of the moral foundations of human existence with well-nigh unsurpassable transparency. Two faces in one head. Four eyes. Good and evil. Like a sharply seasoned sauce over food of excellent taste. Diabolical and divine.
Anyone who possesses a Sjaak Smetsers, possesses both. That is the power of expression of his work. It emanates from his sculptures as well as from his poetry. This energy pervades his work like a pulsating artery. It makes abundantly clear to us that he goes well beyond the eternal difference between the two. Indeed, he even relieves the tension between glass and metal, turning two materials into one. The attentive beholder of his sculptures and the close reader of his poetry alike will understand that he does not lose sight of harmony and opposition. That he brings restraint and liberty together without losing touch with the world around him. It is his way of living. It is his way of being. It is how he treats people, how he treats me. Perhaps that is why I love him so. Perhaps that is what constitutes the attractiveness of his sculptures.
However it may be, his theme is universal. Everyone peels off life, hoping to arrive at the essence. Sjaak does so in his own way. He has an attitude to life in which there may be laughter and in which tears may be shed. He peels until he gets to the heart of the matter and attempts to grasp and experience existence from that point. He needs his artistry to achieve this. He has to create in pursuit of this.
We may recognise it, both in his art and in his poetry. He does this “with his feet firmly on the ground”, like his sculptures, which are properly earthed and move out into the world on two solid feet.
And that world is vast.
A playful alchemist in Tegelen
Visual artist Sjaak Smetsers (Venlo, 1954) occupies a position of his own in the lively Venlo art scene. In his studio in Tegelen he has created a huge army of fabulous figures over a period of many years. The predominantly polychrome creatures with delicately finished ‘skins’ are constructed with acute deliberation. Like a supermechanic Sjaak Smetsers assembles his unique figures step by step. He composes them by means of different disciplines and various techniques from entirely different and at times even conflicting materials. His works of art are never generated at one go. Each individual piece is the result of a scrupulously selected combination of mixed media.
Like a playful alchemist Sjaak Smetsers thinks up original combinations for each new sculpture. If time permits he casts bronze himself; also tools copper, steel or (silver) tin, melts or fuses various kinds of glass, ingeniously applies gold leaf, silver leaf and metal foil and also manufactures ceramics that can be functionally incorporated.
In addition, he grinds, sands and polishes the bronze and induces the patina on all his bronze sculptures himself. Mustering great patience and dedication, he conjures up hues and shades of colour that we would have great difficulty finding in nature.
A number of sculptures are embellished with conspicuous belts. Some of those belts are made of copper. Underneath some belts we see glued sheet glass, which has been subtly tooled with hammers and tongs to create a ‘crumbling’ effect.
Drawing inspiration also from the innovative Romans, who introduced wonderful varieties of glass to this region as early as two thousand years ago, Smetsers devotes a rather large portion of his time to the personal tooling and artistic conversion of various kinds of glass. Thus, he uses his professional glass furnace to melt coloured glass into transparent fused glass and he melts copper leaf, gold or silver into natural glass.
Sjaak Smetsers’ three-dimensional fabulous creatures dovetail intrinsically with a long West-European cultural tradition. They may already be found in the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, depicted mainly within apocalyptic settings on portals or on flying buttresses of Roman and Gothic churches.
Around 1500 we encounter them in the extraordinarily peculiar work by Jheronimus Bosch and later also with the members of the Brueghel family. In the latter half of the 19th and the early 20th century fabulous creatures with more morbid and villainous features pop up in the work made by symbolist and surrealist artists such as Max Ernst and Joan Miró.
After the Second World War we find imaginary mythical beings in all kinds of variants – from aggressive to naïve – among the Cobra artists Karel Appel, Eugène Brands, Constant, Corneille, Asger Jorn, Lucebert and Anton Rooskens. Some of these famous artists used to work as ceramists in Tegelen, which has always enjoyed a cultural atmosphere.
Watch these film impressions about the artist SJAAK SMETSERS and his HOME BASE GALLERY MOEËJEN DAAG!
She weds beauty with the way in which she fills her life. Regardless whether it is to do with love or with outward appearance, it is the same for her. She is true to everyone and thereby to society, but most of all to herself. That comes first and foremost. She is a carrier without any lumber, for irrespective of what she carries, she makes the world lighter. She is the fairy in a thousand dreams, she swarms, she brightens, she is greater than I am. Indeed, I even believe that this muse is much greater than this artist. This muse is the most perfect painting, the perfect sculpture. I am speaking of my muse.
In my view, there are many artists living in a daze of confusion. They are making no headway and their business is being misunderstood in this substantial world. Good confusion is something else, it is a rarity. Confusion can only become good if there is a backbone. It is the least an artist needs, if he is to be able to push on and be involved in his art continuously. He must be able to go up to the very last filament of the frayed ends, to balance on the tip of the impossible. His inner field of tension is wafer-thin.
More than this, he needs something or someone in his environment. A mirror full of sympathy with black patches here and there which yet reflects a shining light. That is my muse. She makes my life divine; she makes the world alluring with all its black holes.
She bares my soul and my speech. She fills my mind with childlike ideas, there where my sculptures grow. Her voice is like a thousand singing birds. She only knows one law. And that law is the law of love.
That love has a name: Lianne.
Bared her eyes look at me.
A new day seeps in.
God and devil mingle.
A bird sings.
Her eye’s light shines from within
outside and comes in,
binds artist to goddess.
A beautiful day awaits.
Another beautiful day.
I am already underway. Bound.
Bound for Moeëjen Daag*
* the name of the artist’s studio
Galerie Moeëjen Daag
GALERIE MOEËJEN DAAG is a meeting place for modern art, which was set up on the initiative of visual artist Sjaak Smetsers and his muse Lianne Smetsers-Sampers. A gallery where amateurs of the arts, of modern paintings, bronze sculptures or glass art can feel at home.
Moeëjen Daag” is a statement: it is used by the artist and his muse as the name of the artist’s studio, as the title of one of his art books, and “Moeëjen Daag” is also the name of the gallery, boasting a floor area of no less than 130 m2. It is fitted with perfect lighting for the display of glass art, paintings, garden sculptures and bronze sculptures. A gallery for modern art, where lovers of art can roam to their heart’s content. A gallery in due form, where you will be given a cordial welcome, in order to enjoy all the beautiful works of modern art that are exhibited there.
In terms of quality, Galerie Moeëjen Daag is a reliable partner in modern art. It is a gallery where you can purchase art created with a high standard of craftsmanship. Modern paintings made with love of the profession. Bronze sculptures and glass art emanating from profound knowledge of these old materials, made by artists who are firmly rooted in their disciplines in modern art.
We organise exhibitions continuously, giving you a hospitable reception in an attractive atmosphere. At Galerie Moeëjen Daag you can also purchase art through the Kunstkoopregeling. We start from the principle that art should add value to your interior. Without obligation we advise and present the works of art at your home or in your business premises.
Do you have any questions or do you want to know more?