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.


Lianne Smetsers-Sampers