Ruan Hoffmann - Caustic Tongue-In-Cheek Witby Miranthe Staden-Garbett, Pretoria News (Thursday, February 16 2006) Ruan Hoffmann's plates resemble jagged little pills. With their dry wit, cantankerous edges and poisonous glazes, they would be hard to swallow, were they, or anything served on them, meant for human consumption.
Unpalatable though they may be, as a feast for the eyes they are spot-on.
Simply seen as paintings on plates they are aesthetically pleasing, desirable objets d'art.
With their explosive reds, strong oranges, concertina corners, concentric circles and quirky cameos, they are abstract and symbolic, highly personalised and playful, recalling Hundertwasser and our own Robert Hodgins.
As craft, which in form it ostensibly purports to be, it's missing one crucial ingredient - its function.
Historically, ceramics maintain a modest reputation: domestic, rustic, useful, humble; while hanging plates on the wall smack of bourgeois kitsch. Hoffmann defies these stereotypes with an idiosyncratic blend of the mystic, caustic and wry.
The succinct choice of format-target/mandala/cosmic circle disguised as innocuous saucer - draws in the unsuspecting viewer.
Fully utilizing the magnetic pull of a circle's center, labyrinthine vortexes harbour rude dismissals and shadows of doubt - go away!
While the messages may be disconcerting, the medium definitely is not.
The result is an intimate exchange.
You have to come really close to decipher the tiny cryptic messages and having meandered the intricate contours to the center, I felt slightly triumphant upon decoding the disjointed "it might not work out, sweetie" message. I'm not quite sure why.
I don't share one critic's sense of thwarted disappointment, as I found myself thoroughly delighted by this tongue-in-cheek spread.
As souvenirs of some one else's bizarre adventures, they promise much vicarious pleasure.