Artistieke uitgangspunten - Samantha Thole

Artist statement

Photo: Jan de Bruin

According to the Roman writer Pliny the Elder, both the art of painting and sculpture were born out of love. He wrote of a Corinthian potter’s daughter who created the world’s first painting by tracing the outline of her lover’s shadow on the wall before he went into battle. To ease his daughter’s grief, her father shaped the soldier’s features within the silhouette with his potter’s clay, thus inventing the art of sculpture. Samantha Thole is very fond of this tale, because it tells of the relationship between painting and sculpture. It is also a beautiful analogy of the connection between memory, imagination and material: notions that lie at the heart of her artworks.

She has been traditionally trained as a painter and employs her skills with a deep love for the idiom of the contemporary arts. Samantha Thole is fascinated by classical antiquity and the Middle Ages. For her, ancient history serves as a delightful artistic playground. During her Fine Art Master’s degree at the Sandberg Institute, she did a residency at the European Ceramic Workcentre in ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. From that moment on, the medium of ceramics has formed the guiding thread in her artistic career.

A reccurring theme throughout Samantha Thole’s oeuvre is that of the vessel. This archetypical concept relates to ceramic containers - cups, bowls and vases- as well as to ships, artery and the botanical world. Some of her artworks only fully come into their own when the audience engages with them. A drinking vessel with big painted eyes, for example, is transformed into a mask when one drinks from it. Through this performative act the vessel seems to turn into a person and the spectator changes into a vessel.

Her works have an impact on several levels: they evoke intimacy, because their form is often related to the artist her own body. But they simultaneously have a universal resonance, as they invite us to reflect on current affairs and even reach out towards the sublime and the monumental. The alchemical transformation imbedded in the ceramic process makes it the perfect medium for her narratives, as fire transmutes the malleable clay into objects that can withstand the ravages of millennia. Art historians speak of pittura eterna, the eternal art of painting. But Samantha Thole is convinced that a form of immortality is embodied in clay.