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Alexander Lichtveld (1953)

Alexander Lichtveld

Born in Amsterdam in 1953, Alexander Lichtveld studied ceramics at the Gerrit Rietveld
Academie under Jan van der Vaart from 1973 to 1978.
Since his graduation from Rietveld Academie, Alexander Lichtveld has been making ceramic
sculptures; in the early years these took the form of architectonic, geometric sculptures that
are not generally associated with the ceramics craft. At first sight, these sculptures made of
clay slabs do not resemble the material of which they are made. The coating, the colour
range, and the slick finish create the illusion that the material is very different from ceramics
as we know it. Nevertheless, Lichtveld is devoted to clay, or as he himself once put it, ‘I am a
sculptor who fires his own stone’.
Until 1985 Lichtveld worked in series, each sculpture in the series using the same principle.
After living, working and exhibiting in Japan for several extended periods, he stopped working
in series. More autonomous sculptures began to appear. The architectonic element of the
earlier sculptures was now complemented by a more narrative style. Round shapes, curves
and new themes entered the scene. ‘After so many years of working with straight lines,
planes, volumes and the relationships between them,’ says Lichtveld, ‘I had the feeling that I
more of less understood everything. That was the moment I started to make use of the
irrational and unpredictable.’ From then on, most of the sculptures were given titles.
Themes of earlier sculptures recur years later in a different form; new forms are created in an
unremitting pursuit of new kinds of sculpture. ‘Every single day I am amazed at the boundless
opportunities for creating new sculptures,’ Alexander Lichtveld explains. ‘Each time I think I
have exhausted all the possibilities, a new line of approach arises and another world of form
emerges, with infinite potential. The challenge is to make the right choices.’
In the midst of this creative dynamic, each sculpture requires and gives its own space and
peace. Tranquillity and contemplation are evident in virtually all the sculptures. ‘You can look
at my sculptures in the same way as you look at a Japanese Zen garden,’ says Alexander
Lichtveld. ‘What I see is a man-made setting that represents nature: all the components,
materials, sizes and colours in such a garden have been placed in a way that appears
accidental and self-evident, as in nature. In fact, the opposite is true. I have always been
fascinated by the knowledge that all of this has been created by man and everything has
been thought out carefully even though it appears natural, in a way that you will never come
across in nature. You are looking at something that is actually something else. That’s when it
really gets exciting.


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