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The Gospel of Studio Job

Exhibited in a serene cloister in Milan's Brera district, 'The Gospel' is the latest offering from Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel, this time based on the drama of religious imagery.

By Jeanne Tan / 27-04-2009

Hidden behind the facades of Milan's imposing building facades and tucked away in little streets are often splendid gardens and courtyards. One of those pockets of calmness was home to the latest Studio Job exhibition for this week.

Fittingly exhibited in the cloister of San Simpliciano, 'The Gospel' is the latest offering from Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel, this time based on religious imagery. The collection is made in conjunction with the Zuiderzee Museum and ING.

'The Gospel' comprises two stained glass windows - The Birth and The Crucifixion - and two versions of a table service called The Last Supper - a 2000kg gigantic rusted sculpture and a regular human-scaled ceramic service. Imagery borrowed from religion is intertwined with modern scenes of industry and chaos as often seen in their previous graphic compositions. "The Gospel feels like a logical continuation of the cycle: Craft 2001, Oxidized 2003, Perished 2006, Silver Ware 2007, Home Work 2006, Robber Baron 2007, Farm 2008 and Bavaria 2008", says Smeets. "It might just be that a composition is more expressive than a pattern, an object more important than a product and unique more impressive then massive. But strangely, the most impressive is often very common and the ordinary mostly so complex".

Made with Rosewood frames and polychrome hand blown glass, the stained glass windows were impressive in their scale and craftsmanship. "Similar with Perished (2006) we were looking for a carrier, a new canvas. We decided to design stained glass windows because these bring in the light so dramatically. Within the thick rosewood frames two universal benchmarks take place: 'the beginning' and 'the end'. The religious icons are placed in a hysterically coloured and doomed landscape", Smeets says.

The roughness of the rusted sculpture service of The Last Supper provided a beautiful contrast with the refinement of the stained glass. Casted from 2000 kg of foundry iron, the 17 giant pieces were simply left out in the rain to naturally rust. Upstairs, the porcelain version (12 pieces) was displayed in customised Paper Cabinets which Studio Job previously designed for Moooi. "After Pyramid (2008) we were looking for a contemporary approach to apply hand painting on ceramics. In cooperation with Royal Tichelaar Makkum we developed 15 fresh and bright coloured glazes. Now for the first time in 150 years, new scenes and tableaus are applied in polychrome by the painters in Makkum".

Smeets explains that this is not a protest against the body of religion. "Although Nynke and I do not practice religion, we enjoy the incredible fatal and expressive dramas which are executed, immortalized in extreme inventories full of holy pomp and splendour. We used the icon and religion as a canvas and metaphor to visualize and express how our 'high culture’ becomes more fantastic by the minute. The abstract truth is more exciting than physical evidence. In many ways that's a great source of inspiration".

Image: The Birth
Image: The Last Supper (ceramic service)
Image: The Last Supper (foundry iron)

Images courtesy of Studio Job

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