Caroline Smit & Ray Caesar at James Freeman Gallery

James Freeman Gallery presents an exhibition of new works by Carolein Smit and Ray Caesar, two artists at the forefront of contemporary surrealism to explore the contradictions of the subconscious mind. The show will open with a private view at 18.30 on Thursday 3 May and run through Saturday 26 May 2018. 

Carolein Smit, an internationally renowned ceramic artist and Ray Caesar, a renowned pioneer of digital art, create wondrously dark, deeply instinctive works of art. Both artists’ practices are fueled by a compelling and intuitive process which often leads to their artworks taking on an unforeseen shape.

Smit’s ceramic figures, both frightening and fragile, illustrate her fascination with contrasts and question the boundaries between beauty and horror. Without knowing what form her finished sculptures will take, the artist borrows themes from classic mythological and biblical tales to create characters that lurk deep in our shared cultural psyche. Despite their timeless nature, the characters tap into some of the most elemental narratives governing the subconscious. Exquisitely detailed satyrs, skeletons, medusa’s heads, and sacrificial lambs covered with thorns and drops of blood: they are motifs that have been playing their roles for so long that they become more theatrical than fearsome. The figures often reminiscent of vanitas provide a reminder of the impermanence of life and inevitability of death.

In tandem with this show, Smit’s solo exhibition ‘Myth and Mortality: The Fairytale World of Carolein Smit’ runs at the Victoria & Albert Museum until 30 September 2018 including two site specific wall installations. Smit also has two other important upcoming exhibitions: “L’amour fou” at the Grassi Museum in Leipzig, and a solo show of the same name at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands.

Ray Caesar’s work shows manifestations of childhood memories along with the disturbing subconscious workings of the mind. Surprisingly for such intricate works, Caesar lets his intuition take “control”at the moment of creation, resulting in works that have a striking, visceral quality. His images present a cast of figures he refers to as dolls dressed in a myriad of historical costumes and interpreting a variety of cryptic roles. The environments they inhabit are as equally unsettling, with pastoral landscapes, nostalgic seafronts and neo-classical interiors where animals become human and plants come to life. He even sometimes takes to scanning his or his wife’s skin below the eyes to give his creations their sentient, pallid appearance.

The James Freeman Gallery is a contemporary gallery in London which focuses on artists making contemporary work that explore art history references with both technical and aesthetic prowess. Founder and curator James Freeman is available for expert comment and interview.
James Freeman Gallery, 354 Upper Street, Islington London N1 0PD
For more information please contact Anna Beketov,
To RSVP to the Private View please email

Carolein Smit is an internationally renowned ceramic artist who currently lives in Belgium. In the early 1990s she received three scholarships from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Design and Architecture in Amsterdam, and in 1993 was honourably mentioned for the Prix de Rome. Her sculptures form part of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Asante collection in Switzerland, the Thomas Olbricht collection in Germany, the Treger/Saint Silvestre Collection in Portugal, Fuled International Museum (FLICAM) in Fuping, China and many more. Her artworks have been on show at the Bonnefantenmuseum (Maastricht), Art Basel, La Maison Rouge (Paris), me Collectors Room (Berlin), the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Rotterdam) to name but a few. In 2010 she had a solo show at the Kunsthal (Rotterdam), and was also part of the blockbuster exhibition ‘CERAMIX’, curated by Camille Morineau (curator Centre Pompidou) and Lucia Pesapane at the Bonnefantenmuseum in 2015 and La Maison Rouge and Cité de la céramique (Sèvres) in 2016.

Raye Caesar (b.1958 in London, UK) is celebrated as the grandfather of digital art. At an early age his family moved to Toronto, Canada, where he currently lives and works. Caesar’s vision resonates with the changing psyche of his figures, reflecting memories of his childhood and experiences gathered over 17 years working in the art therapy department of the Hospital For Sick Children. His work is collected by the Hearst Family, Riccardo Tisci Givenchy, Madonna, Metallica, the Bristol Museum, and selected by the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art, New York & Guggenheim, New York.