Monica Van den Dool’s Ceramic Surrealism

Felix Kulpa in April

I attended First Friday in Santa Cruz with my friend Rachel and was pleasantly amazed by the quality of work. The Felix Kulpa Gallery was the first place we visited and it did not disappoint. The three gallery attendants (Dylan, Sophia, and Eloise) were warm, knowledgable, and creative. The show was the top of the top, showing the work of three astoundingly interesting artists. In this blog, I am going to focus on the wild and imaginative ceramic art of Monica Van den Dool.

Reality is Surreal

Dylan shared this interesting idea about the surreality of life as we talked about the work and contemporary art in general. Van den Dool’s amazing work exemplifies this tendency: in her art, the strange emerges like a feeling in a dream. Using a figurative vocabulary familiar and beautiful, she brings the unconscious dimly into view. The work is beautiful, but this is secondary to its primary effect. The viewer is confronted with symbols that ask the imagination to translate what they are seeing. In other words, the work is meant to be read, not simply viewed.

Gothic Ceramics

Van den Dool’s work achieves the implausible, by rendering fire in clay and giving ghosts a comical form. Turning the terrifying questions about death and the afterlife into something fun to look at, Van den Dool balances seriousness with whimsy. This show is a must-see, and a true treat for Santa Cruz art lovers. I highly recommend visiting the gallery and giving the work some time.

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