Sugar Bowl from the Series ‘Chitin’s Gloss’

From just a few centimeters away, the illusion is already perfect: immediately the impulse arises to flick or blow away the little ants from the sugar bowl – after all, (almost) nobody wants insects in their hot drink. Only on closer inspection does it become clear that we are dealing with paint and not chitinous shells.

Each individual ant is hand-painted by the artist Evelyn Bracklow. However, the departure from run-of-the-mill tableware begins with the still undecorated cups or plates that the artist acquires at flea markets. Already before the individual paintwork, they are vintage porcelain; after the artistic embellishment, they could hardly be further removed from the industrial mass-produced goods that the Werkbund wished for.

Evelyn Bracklow is of course not the first artist to pay more attention to these creatures organized in complex state-like systems. In numerous paintings, the small insects are used as a symbol of ephemerality and death, more specifically of decay. When the ants on some of Evelyn Brackow’s tableware eat fruit, the artist is directly alluding to this tradition. The Spanish artist Salvador Dalì was particularly obsessed with ‘hormigas’, which crawl through at least 79 of his works.

The fact that in times of 6-pack Ikea water glasses, individual design is still appreciated shows that the Werkbund, with its appeal for standardization, did not adequately take into account the very human need for distinction. However, Evelyn Bracklow’s unique artistic pieces are not available for less than a few hundred euros.