In the summer of 2011, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen showed works by Helly Oestreicher in the vitrines and on the wall in gallery F. The exhibition brought together a selection of small works from her multifaceted oeuvre in which ceramics plays a key role.
In the early 1960s Helly Oestreicher was part of the innovative generation of Dutch ceramicists who redefined the discipline. Over the next few decades ceramics grew from a traditional craft into a form of visual art in its own right. This generation also included Jan van der Vaart and Johan van Loon, whose work was exhibited in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in 1991 and 2010 respectively. These three ceramicists have enriched Dutch ceramic design in their own personal way.
Helly Oestreicher has had a preference for working with clay since the beginning of her career. ‘The absolute constancy of the material has an emotional value for me. Ceramic displays no signs of decay, no ageing such as the yellowing of paper and the discolouration of varnish or paint.’ Even though clay remains her favourite material, she also frequently uses glass and porcelain in her abstract sculptures. Helly Oestreicher’s choices are led by the specific characteristics of the material, such as its form, colour and structure. However, her unconventional techniques and combination of contrasting materials often undermine the viewer’s preconceptions. In Oestreicher’s work glass can appear fluid and fired porcelain may appear flexible.
Helly Oestreicher’s sculptures appeal to the viewer’s senses and imagination. The longer one spends with her works the more layers one discovers.