Eugene Hön

Eugene Hön is a ceramic artist with a passion for drawing ballpoint renderings. These renderings are thoughtfully applied to ceramic statements and ready-mades as digitally printed ceramic transfers and/or as animated projections on ceramic installations. With a master’s degree in Ceramic Sculpture, from the University of Cape Town. He has pursued a career as an academic and practicing artist for the past thirty-seven years. He is an artist that celebrates the handmade, developing concepts and ideas within the context of a globalized society. He embraces the advancement in technology and the impact of the digital, whilst living in an information age. His experience as an academic and commitment to the development of the crafts has expanded his knowledge and honed his broad skills to include the teaching-in and the making of ceramics, sculpture, drawing, artist’s books, digital printing, animation, video or digital projection installation and ultimately design; industrial design and jewellery design and manufacture. His latest career development expands his broad creative output to include curating/curatorial practice, as the recently appointed director of the FADA Gallery at the University of Johannesburg.

 

ACADEMIC

Eugene Hön is an accomplished senior lecturer at the University of Johannesburg. With teaching and learning experience across disciplines including ceramics, jewellery design and manufacture, architecture, industrial design and the visual arts. He has held numerous positions since joining the Technikon Witwatersrand Technikon in 1986 (merged with RAU in 2006 to become the University of Johannesburg). He started as junior lecturer in the Ceramic Design Department and in 1990 he became the Head of Department. His position provided him with an opportunity to foster links with the industry and the local community, setting up a Crafts Council for South Africa whilst being elected chairperson of the Ceramic Council of South Africa. He went on to become the Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture. A position that he held for seven years, during which he steered the FADA Faculty to become an integrated academic unit into a purpose built state of the art facility on the Bunting Road Campus. In …the Ceramic Department was closed down, however the scaled down facility was incorporated into the Industrial Design workshop.  His current teaching focus is ceramic design and manufacture to Industrial Designers (2nd, 3rd and Honours students), whilst facilitating design projects in Architecture and Jewellery Design for Manufacture.

 

PERSONNAL INFORMATION

Eugene Peter Hön

Born: 21 November 1958

Star Sign: Scorpio

Zodiac: Dog

Birth Place:  Bellville             

 

Current Occupation

Senior Lecturer: University of Johannesburg

Position:  Director FADA Gallery

 

EDUCATION

2004 EDP  USB (University of Stellenbosch)

1986 MFA. (Ceramic Sculpture), University of Johannesburg

1983 BAFA (Ceramic Sculpture), University of Johannesburg

1976 Matric Hoërskool Tygerberg

 

Awards

2010 Fellow, in recognition of valuable contributions to ceramics and to Ceramics Southern Africa.

2009 Clay Pot Award, Ceramics SA Regional Awards exhibition.

1998 Merit Award, International Ceramics Biennale Sandton Civic Art Gallery.

 

EXHIBITIONS

2016 2016 Ceramics SA Biennale, University of Johannesburg Art Gallery.  Manufraction; Ceramic shard as vessel. Participating artist and curator.

2014 Group Exhibition. Read, Peep Reap, The Book Arts: Artist’s Books Exhibition, Art on Paper. Stanley 44.

2014  2014 TAIWAN Ceramics Biennale, New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum. …..and the ship sails on… Ceramic Installation with digital projection of ballpoint pen renderings. Digital materialities section.

2012 Solo Exhibition, launch of DVD titled,….and the ship sails on… and applied works of art and design. Elegance Jewellers, Melrose Arch.

2011 Collaborations/articulations, staff exhibition at FADA Gallery UJ, Ceramic installation with projected animation titled, and the ship sails on…...

 

COLLECTIONS. 

Corobrik Collection, South African National Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Durban Art Gallery, TWR Permanent Collection, Sandton Civic Art Gallery, Constitutional Court of South Africa. Altech collection and numerous private collections in South Africa, New York, Spain, London and Paris.

 

LATEST WORKS

 

CERAMICS

Title

and the ship sails on…..

 

Description

Ceramic Installation with projected animated ballpoint pen drawings.

 

As the barriers between art and design blur, it is important that ceramic artists, designers and craftspeople confront drastic shifts amidst great uncertainty regarding their contribution to visual culture. Ceramics has always been labeled as Decorative Art, and thus approaching decoration as projected animation onto a ceramic installation suggested new possibilities for this art form. For the ceramic installation with projected animation titled, and ship sails on…., I did not want the ceramic installation to act merely as a canvas for the projection. Rather, the entire work had to reinforce the rich tradition of ceramic discourse. It was vital that the animation embody aspects of the craft of ceramics in its use of symbols, colours, shapes and textures. The animation was first treated as a surface development exercise realised through preliminary pen drawings. Viewing the projected animation as surface pattern and the ceramic installation as merely a canvas for would have been a travesty, and hence the animation took centre stage, clinging to the ceramic installation of slip-cast decoy ducks in a new and exciting way –reinforcing the three-dimensionality of the final statement. 

 

Fundamental to the success of the collaboration was Pater’s ability to capitalise on my drawings, and to reinforce the notion of the handmade, albeit virtual, decoration. All the clichés and notions of craft making – the “studio”, the “handmade” and even the word ‘craft’ itself – are abandoned in the final statement. The only evidence of these is in the “artist’s book” exhibited at the site of the installation, reaffirming my intention of thinking through craft without remaining entrapped in its demise. 

 

On one level, and the ship sails on reiterates the significance of the crafts as a liberated tool in celebrating surface decoration both stylistically and conceptually. The work alludes to a revival of the ideals of the Pattern and Decoration movement, established in 1975. However, it is more than simply a response to minimalism. It refers to Michael Petry’s advocating of a return to a highly crafted aesthetic in contemporary art4 and attempts to put a nail in the coffin of modernism’s mantra that decoration is a crime.

 

ARTISTS BOOKS

 

Title

Read Peep Reap

 

Description

Artists Book Installation

 

“The Book Arts: Artist’s Books Exhibition”, held at Art on Paper at 44 Stanley in November 2014, provided a perfect opportunity for displaying my most recent work, read peep reap (Figs. 1-13). Consisting of three separate components, read peep reap could be understood as an artist’s book installation that includes a drawing of an iris, a sculptural book and a ‘visual label’.

 

Its first component, a drawing, is an interpretation of Albrecht Dürer’s Iris Troiana (1508), which is rendered in blue, red and pink ballpoint pen ink and depicts a bruised flower. The iris also makes reference to the 1970s feminism movement as it features in Judy Chicago’s work and is associated with her endeavours to elevate “craft” to the status of “art”. My ballpoint drawing is set behind glass in a customized frame to accommodate an operational set of blinds, and fades with exposure to direct light: drawing the blinds and exposing the ballpoint rendering thus causes it to fade away, an act suggestive of the death of the handmade and crafts in a digital age. The viewer has the choice to peep though the blinds at the drawing or operate the mechanism to expose the entire work.

 

The second object, the “Visual Label”, consists of a series of digital prints on acid free paper, folded concertina style as a sequential explication. It includes mind maps and reference material, including photocopies of the watercolour and ink drawing by Dürer. Towards its end is printed a series of elaborate complex digitally enhanced floral patterns exploring reflection symmetry which Graphic Design staff member, Christa Van Zyl, produced from the drawing.

The final component takes the form and shape of a sculptural book set between two transparent extruded plastic bookends. The spine is handcrafted and bound in dark brown leather. The title “read peep reap” (a Dewey decimal classification number) and my name as the artist/author are embossed and gilded in gold leaf. The individual pages are dye-cut into shapes of hundreds of blinds which are strung together with thin cotton ropes, simulating the mechanism of a set of blinds while also emulating the thread used to stich the individual pages together in the craft of bookbinding. The digitally printed and dye-cut pages allude to the codex of a book, a title page, preliminaries, a colophon, frontispiece, dedication and epigraph.

 

In her introduction to Navigating the BookScape: Artists’ books and the Digital Interface, Robyn Sassen (2006) asks: “is the Artist’s book about reading, about looking, about thinking, or about all three?” The title of the installation, read peep reap, prompts the viewer to consider the death of crafts and the handmade in a digital age. Celebrating the art of drawing and fine craftsmanship in bookbinding, it pays homage to the ultimate ‘artisan’, Dürer, who was not only a painter, printmaker and engraver but also a mathematician and theorist. And, to use the words of Sassen (2006) in regard to artists’ books, it is about my “sense of wonder and exploration in creating an interactive thing that brings the audience as a collaborative participant in the experience of the work”.

 

Reference

Sassen, Robyn. 2006. Introduction. In Navigating the Bookscape: Artists’ Books and the Digital Interface, edited by David Paton. Online publication. http://www.theartistsbook.org.za/view.asp?pg=exhibitions&ex=ex2_001

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Department of Jewellery Design and Manufacture,

University of Johannesburg,

Bunting Road Campus.

Johannesburg,

South Africa.

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