The often imperfect creatures have human traits and display both loveliness and ruthlessness. As a result of the sheer abundance of decorations and the colourful enamels used her work deliberately balances on the verge of kitschiness. Combining daring baroque with perfectly executed craft, the sculptures by Smit can very well be considered a true and welcome addition to contemporary Dutch sculpting.
Compassion or aversion
A spiked hare displaying simulated arrogance or a red spaghetti baby grimacing with a skin-stripped face: Carolein Smit's works constantly balance between attracting and rejecting those who see them. Figures that are constructed from spaghetti-like strings, some completely covered with sharp spikes and others perforated, constitute her highly imaginative oeuvre. Some sculptures are as sweet as can be and at first evoke compassion in the beholder. Adapting the skin of the sculpture, for example by piercing it with hundreds of little holes, attributes an uncommon sense of transparency and liveliness to them.
Other figures, like for example the spiked sculptures, are not meant to be caressed but to be admired instead. Smit is inspired by fairy tales, old sagas and religion. Themes like greed and power, powerlessness and guilt, death and decay are very often present in her work. Sculptures from the so-called Aracoeli series, inspired by a small sculpture of Jesus present in the ‘Santa Maria in Aracoeli' basilica in Rome, are put on display. This specific sculpture of a crowned baby Jesus, covered with presents, triggered Smit to produce a series of happy babies in showy clothes that cry, sputter or hold guns in their tiny hands. The sublime decorations, amongst which shiny, sparkling (fake) gems and all sorts of toys contribute to an astonishing mixture of meanings with a funny touch here and there.
At Flatland Gallery (Utrecht-Amsterdam-Paris) the publication ‘Book of Sorrow' including the documentary ‘Beauty and Death' on DVD by director Dagmar Brendecke on Carolein Smit is to appear (ISBN 978-94-90503-02-4).
The book is designed by Studio Kees-Jan Smit, Haarlemmerliede and includes pictures by Winnifred Limburg, Breda.