HA NOI — For many, playing with fire is dangerous. But for Francois Jarlov, the universe’s source of life gives forth his passion to the art of ceramics.
"Like a child finding it fun to strike a light, I have always been fascinated with fire and the way it works with clay," says Jarlov.
"Fire gives a sense of magic and infinity; a piece of ceramic exist for as long as 10,000 years or more, whereas a painting lives less long."
The 32-year-old fire player is currently displaying his ceramic creations at Cafe des Arts in Ha Noi.
On display are boxes that contain Jarlov’s hopes and bottled dreams. Jarlov’s work breathes of international inspiration as he mingles elements of things he has seen and places he has been with imagined elements of his own creation.
Pieces of bamboo, copper and coins are etched into the clay that shimmers a shiny green when out of the fire.
"Francois Jarlov’s works have the magic of distant journeys: Japan in the employed techniques, Africa for those comb strokes etched into the clay," says Diane Lamouret, an art critic for the French Impression Art review. "The magic of shapes and colours combine, intertwine, then break free to create veritable artworks."
Jarlov employs Japanese ceramics techniques of raku, which emanate from Zen philosophies, but he emphasises that he relies essentially on his own intuition.
He accompanies his boxes with texts elucidating his personal method and sources of inspiration.
For instance, Jarlov explains that the round shape of a pregnant woman generates softness and tranquillity. Tangible vacation souvenirs invoke pleasant feelings of nostalgia.
"One day, any of us may encounter a seashell, a piece of stone or a souvenir coin brought from a foreign country. They all remind us of some distant memory," he says.
The cosmopolitan touch that Jarlov exhibits comes from first hand knowledge gathered during his travels over the last fifteen years, to places such as Yugoslavia, Italy, Portugal, Egypt, Japan and Viet Nam.
Jarlov first came to Viet Nam in 1998. During his visit, he lectured at the Ha Noi Fine Art College about ceramics hoping to inspire Vietnamese artists to make ceramics as art rather than mere objects of utility.
"Vietnamese ceramics were shut off from outside influences during the wars," says Jarlov. "Since the war, ceramics have remarkably revived, but they remain objects for use. Only a handful of artists have nurtured them for aesthetic decoration. Hopefully, the number is rising."
Also fascinated by Bat Trang traditional techniques, Jarlov urges Vietnamese artists to look to that solid ground for inspiration.
The French artist is also displaying a calendar made from his sketches of the city.
The exhibition is at Cafe des Arts, 11 Bao Khanh Street and can also be viewed at www.francois-jarlov.com. — VNS
Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency