Croes is fascinated by clay. He moulds it, makes it his own, batters and perforates it, shapes it, embosses it… to make it convey ideas, charades, exquisite corpses, in the purest surrealist tradition. Eric Croes manages to transpose into volumes the word games practiced by the Surrealists.

Being so malleable, clay allows him all kinds of madness. And his work hovers on the border between art and decorative arts. The artist reached the apex of his terracotta work when he discovered Gauguin’s ceramics, which confirmed him in his practice of the medium in spite of those segmentations. Gauguin the painter who had tried his hand at a so-called minor art; Gauguin who suddenly fled civilisation to find the essence of life labelled as wild and primitive. Indeed, the avant-garde artists of the late 19th century and the interwar period played a crucial part in breaking down categories by collecting tribal art, folk art, and naive art, and in developing an idea of the world built on the juxtaposition of contradictory concepts and objects. Let’s not forget Picasso’s ceramics, who would transform a jug into a face and distorted a plate to make it smile.

Eric Croes was born in 1978 at La Louvière (Belgium). He currently lives and works in Brussels. The artist Albert Baronian, originally from the Rossicontemporary gallery which he managed for quite a while, offered him the opportunity to exhibit his works in his own gallery. We had been able to discover Eric Croes’s highly entertaining work at Rossi, last May. The series of sculptures presented at the time shown selected and repeated shapes: the bear’s paw, the tree trunk, the snowball… Since then, Eric Croes has improved both his work on enamel – gaining in subtlety with mottled surfaces and drips – and on surfaces that are used to carve a drawing. As a result, each sculpture can be read on many levels, some primitive and unconscious, others very profound and intellectual. What makes each sculpture so exhilirating is this shameless assemblage of objects and figures, sometimes similar to raw art, but with a perfectly mastered technique – Croes has his own kiln and creates each ceramic from A to Z in his studio.

Here, a tiger stands on top of a red elephant, and there a yellow jug has been given a face and big ears. A totem combines a snowman’s head with a trunk, a vase, a unicorn, and a pebble. A house key is topped with a diamond; a beautiful unicorn is finished in a subtle blue glaze. Ultimately, the artist is an enabler of chimeras. He delivers to the world these fabulous monsters, with the head of a lion, the belly of a goat and the tail of a dragon. There they are now, enticing, drawing in the visitor’s gaze, and spreading joy and happiness. Mu loves all that!

Eric Croes
Platypus
Galerie Albert Baronian
2 rue Isidore Verheyden
1050 Ixelles
Tuesdays – Saturdays, from 12:00 to 18:00
Until 19 December
http://albertbaronian.com/

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Eric Croes, Totem – Carafe aux deux visages, céramique émaillée, béton et acier

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Eric Croes, Cadavre exquis, vase artichaut, céramique blanche émaillée

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Eric Croes, Cadavre exquis, tête de cerf-volant, céramique blanche émaillée

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Eric Croes, Cadavre exquis, tête de pastis fumant, céramique blanche émaillée

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