top of page
Windstruck II
Windstruck I


2020 - 2021


Hadeda Drawing 1
Hadeda Drawing 2
Boat & Grub Worm Composition
Grub Worm Drawing
Dandelion Drawing
Dandelion Seed Drawing
Leaves Drawing
Butterfly & Seed Composition 1
Windstruck Tree Drawing 2
Treestump Drawing
Koppie Drawing
Windstruck Tree Drawing 1


Eugene Hö

The installation Windstruck I & II consists of two composite ceramic statements, including the remarkably finely articulated ballpoint pen drawings Eugene Hön derived his transferware from. 

Much as one starts enjoying a new book in its cover, upon entering Hön’s exhibition an elegant vinyl poster presents title and imagery of the windswept, alienating landscape, which first evoked the artist’s creative response.

The exhibition reveals its subsequent development through a visual label, consisting of various elements: a series of digital prints, folded concertina style, offer a sequential explication. This includes mind maps and both written and visual documentation of Hön’s entire research and design process. Towards the end of the document a series of complex digitally enhanced floral patterns reveal types of reflection symmetry, which Graphic Design staff member, Christa van Zyl produced from the drawings. Hön shares with us all his reference material, as well as several ceramic test pieces: his firing proofs.

Windstruck I consists of two thrown, identical egg-shaped vessels. In the bottom half of each egg-shaped vase appears a transferred drawing of a windswept landscape. The two landscapes are slightly differentiated. On one vessel a hadeda is featured and on the other a piece of driftwood, shaped like a shipwreck, with the incessant progress of a grubworm traced inside. The same landscapes featured in Windstruck I appear again, slightly larger, on the two circular ready-made platters of Windstruck II, along with a tall vase.

In the conceptual development of the work, Hön referenced a pair of ceramic vases created during the political and economic turmoil of the French Revolution.


These were aptly titled: Vases with scenes of storm on land[1]. The serene symmetry of the pair contain within their elegant form a great uncertainty and devastation. At the centre of the two vases bleak, monochromatic landscapes were painted, depicting figures battling a severe inland storm. The contorted trees and brazing figures are reminiscent of the mighty winds of change that swept through French society in 1789.

In contrast to the French vases, the landscapes depicted in Hön’s ceramic statement are stripped bare. They are reminiscent of the valley of Desolation in the Eastern Cape. Two anguished, wind struck trees are visible, as well as a weathered tree trunk, half submerged in barren soil. With water levels subsided, the weathered trunk has been exposed to the hot sun and dry wind of an alienating landscape.

The idea of inserting landscape was originally inspired by Hön’s reading of two novels: Against nature and Quicksand, by Joris-Karl Huysman and Henning Mankell respectively [2]. Theirs are worlds from which one tries to escape. Mankell’s is a personal encounter with death[3], the author having diagnosed with cancer and terminally ill. Hön felt that their landscapes, their spaces and places experienced, resonate with our own present experience. The Covid 19 pandemic has brought us a here and now of deep despair. Death has become a common reality for many, as has financial ruin.

Every element within Hön’s landscapes are digitally constructed from scanned black ink ballpoint pen drawings, including two hadedas, the Spandau Kop located outside the Eastern Cape town of Graaff-Reinet and the ship-like piece of driftwood, complete with a mast. Stranded in the landscape, the shipwreck’s underbelly is being eaten out by a grubworm, the only element in this desolate landscaped rendered in full colour.

For Hön, the stranded ship recalls a once thriving South African economy; the discovery of gold on the Reef and the birth of Johannesburg, our city of gold.


The artist identifies the grubworm’s incessant consumption of the shipwreck with the plight of the Zama Zamas[4], who make a meagre living in the informal mining sector, desperate times calling for desperate actions.

Above the distressing landscape, tossed about by an unrelenting wind, are numerous Dandelion seeds, as applied transfers of ballpoint pen drawings. Brown veined White butterflies appear, also as applied transfers of ballpoint pen drawings. During the hot Karoo drought, these migratory butterflies take to the skies in a northeasterly direction, escaping the arid Karoo region.

Central to the surface development of Hön’s ceramic vessels are his renderings of a Dandelion. In the city this hardy plant is known for surviving in paving cracks or in the hardest of soils. Commonly treated as a weed, an outcast, it thrives in the most unforeseen circumstances. On the front surface of Hön’s large pair of egg-shaped vessels and also on the two round platters, he delicate Dandelions appear in fragmented segments, floating on air above the monochromatic landscapes, rendered in ephemeral colour. Here images of Dandelions are applied in between simulated cracks quite reminiscent of the discarded shells of a boiled egg.

Hön first explored his own innovations with ceramic transferware work at the time of his solo exhibition at the FADA Gallery, in 2020, titled Manufactured Distractions and Intersections. His exploration of fragmented segments reference the Japanese art of kintsugi (gold joining) and kintsukuroi (gold repair). In Japan this traditional lacquer inspired ceramic repair craft served as a metaphor for connection and for assembling separate pieces into a whole.

For Hön the kintsugi ‘seams of gold’ resonate metaphorically with the plight of the local Zama Zamas (a Zulu term meaning ‘those that try to get something from nothing’) and rich gold veins of danger.


For these desperate informal miners, living in Egoli, The city of Gold,  the hope of finding unmined traces of gold are rooted in a harsh, material world. ‘As our eyes follow the lines of destruction now filled with gold, we recognise at some level there is a story to be told with every crack, every chip. This story inevitably leads to kintsugi’s greatest strength: an intimate metaphoric narrative of loss and recovery, breakage and restoration, tragedy and the ability to overcome it’ (Kemske 2021:12)[5]

The work draws on the Kintsugi techniques of tomotsugi and more specifically of yobitsugi, patchwork repair (yobi = patched / tsugi = joining), in a re-imagined format. An approach visually simulating the age-old repair tradition of masters is created by connecting related (Tomotsugi) and unrelated fragments (Yobitsugi), which intersect on the surface of the vessel in the manipulation of digitally printed ceramic transfers of scanned ballpoint pen drawings. The transfers are applied to both the vessels and the platters.
Celebrating decoration as restoration Hön states: “The work celebrates decoration as restoration in direct response to Modernism’s mantra that ornament and adornment is a crime. The reimagined yobitsugi repaired vessels, albeit simulated, to use the words of Kemske (2021:) in regard to the practice of Kintsugi, ‘speaks of individuality and uniqueness, fortitude and resilience, and renewal and re-invention in this difficult time of pandemic and the imperatives of global climate change’.

In both ceramic statements in the installation, my narrative of renewal and re-invention during these desperate times is captured in the rendition of the Dandelion seeds and the migratory Brown veined white butterflies, as they are transported on the wind. Visually these elements manifest from fragmented surfaces on the front of the vessels and platters to a celebration of pattern making on the back of the vessels. The Dandelion seeds, the butterflies and the grubworm are swept up by the relentless wind into an elaborate and complex digitally enhanced whirligig-like mandala of patterns of reflection symmetry drawn from the original drawings”.

Conceptually speaking Eugene Hön found an important source in Floressas Des Esseintes, the main character in the novel written by Joris -Karl Huysman, titled Against Nature (A Rebours). Floressas’ escape from reality into an imaginary world is best articulated in the following quotes from the novel:

‘Already he had begun dreaming of a refined Thebaid, a desert hermitage equipped with all the modern conveniences, a snugly heated ark on dry land in which he might take refuge from the incessant deluge of human stupidity’ (2021:21).

‘Travel, indeed, struck him as being a waste of time, since he believed that the imagination could provide a more than adequate substitute for the vulgar reality of actual experience. In his opinion, it was perfectly possible to fulfil those desires commonly supposed to be the most difficult to satisfy under normal conditions, and this by the trifling subterfuge of producing a fair imitation of the object of those desires’ (2021:8).

The viewer is transported into the windstruck landscape, evoked by the imagery on the ceramic vessels on display and their surface development. A celebration of pattern making offers an escape into the beauty thereof, as does a momentary immersion in the pleasure of experiencing handcrafted excellence.

[1] Vase with scenes of storm on land, Dihl et Guérhard (French, 1781–ca. 1824) (Manufacture de Monsieur Le Duc d’Angoulême, until 1789), Possibly painted by Jean-Baptiste Coste (French, 1777–1819). Ca 1790-95. Hard-paste porcelain. These two vases were made at the time of the French Revolution, at a factory that was located in the heart of Revolutionary Paris. Decorated with landscapes depicting severe inland storms, the people in both landscapes are at the mercy of the wild forces of nature. These scenes, highly unusual for French porcelain, may perhaps be seen as a reflection of the tumultuous times during which the vases were produced.

[2] Quicksand was written after Mankel was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The book was published posthumously. Quicksand is not a book about death and destruction, but about what it means to be human.

[3] The reading of Mankell’s book, Quicksand, stems from my personal encounter with the death of my own brother and father. In the words of the author, ‘the book is about how humanity has lived and continues to live, and about how I have lived and continue to live my own life’. life’. And, not least, about the great zest for life, which came back when I managed to drag myself out of the quicksand that threatened to suck me down into the abyss’.

[4] Forced to ply their trade in crumbling industrial shafts where a fatal collapse is just as likely as stumbling across a deposit worth the effort, they are perpetually preyed upon by a coterie of criminal cartels who often count the police among their number. With little to no alternatives, the group perseveres regardless. — here we take a closer look at how the recession of South Africa’s mining industry was just the first chapter in what has since developed into a bloody and brutal illicit scramble for gold.

[5] Kemske, Bonnie. 2021. Kintsugi: The Poetic Mend. London, Herbert Press.


Windstruck I

Windstruck II

Eugene Hon - Windstruck Exhibition Wide Shot.jpg
Windstruck - Exhibition Title



FADA Gallery
University of Johannesburg
October 2022



bottom of page