ARTIST FOCUS

Hans Vangsø / b. 1950

I like Henning Jorgensen’s description of the ‘complicated simplicity’ of Hans Vansgø’s pots.  Certainly, for all that apparent economy, their roots are complex enough, encompassing the robust beauty of Japanese kilns and European medieval pottery through the filter of a very modern Scandinavian sensibility.  Vangsø is part of a broader Western focus on particularly elemental types of wood firing that we associate originally with Bizen, Shigaraki and other traditions.  With Vangsø, there is a combination of powerful throwing and cutting, with great depth and character of surface.

The pots are about a confident interaction of influence, and of clay, glaze and fire at their most directly expressive.  The pots may nod to the Far East, but are made of Danish and German clays, and have more than a strong sense of their own landscape (Mols, the Jutland peninsula where Vangsø lives, is a wild undulating area that abuts the Kattegat sea).  Flared and straight-sided teabowls and big round jars carry a distinctly Japanese provenance, but many of his simple cylinders and smaller jars, some of which are squared-off, cut-sided or fluted, are inherently Danish in form.

I also like the notion of Vangsø’s work as ‘artless’.  These are pots on a loose rein, where fly ash runs, and glazes bubble, pit and burn back into the clay, so that body and surface appear to have gone through some kind of geological stress and re-formation.  But nature’s apparently random interventions are still channelled and controlled by a deeply skilled and sensitive hand.

David Whiting, October 2013

 

'Once upon a time the composer Stravinsky said “All art that isn’t based on tradition is imitation.”I feel that Hans in his work is aware of the truth of these words – and he has worked hard to achieve this knowledge. He has studied the big anonymous pots from all his travels around the world – and because of that he had the chance to realize himself.It’s so lovely to see the strength in his shapes.It’s lovely to see the bottom in his pots.It’s lovely to see how wild he has been in his firings.And it’s lovely to see something in the pots you didn’t expect at all.' Gutte Eriksen, 2004

 

April 27, 2020
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