Perfect Clouds Indoors : Exploring Berndnaut Smilde Art

Berndnaut Smilde is an artist who creates miniature clouds in unusual indoor settings, from coal mines to cathedrals. His series, Nimbus, has been growing ever since he began several years ago and recently made its way to Frieze, New York. But what makes his work so unique isn’t just the locations – it’s the fact that each of his sculptures only last a few seconds before they evaporate into nothing. With such a fleeting moment of beauty, how does Berndnaut create these ephemeral works?

Berndnaut Smilde

Berndnaut Smilde’s Nimbus series mesmerises viewers with its stunning combination of nature and artistry. The artwork consists of perfect miniature clouds created in various indoor locations worldwide—from coal mines to cathedrals—and captured on camera before disappearing forever within 10 seconds or less. It takes weeks for each piece to come together as Berndnaut carefully considers every detail about the space where he will construct his cloud sculpture.

The artist begins by creating a wall of water vapour using a spritzer normally used for houseplants; simultaneously, a smoke machine releases fog, colliding with this wall and creating the desired cloud shape. For optimum results, the space needs to be cold and damp with no air circulation; Berndnaut prefers a concentrated cloud that measures no bigger than six feet tall. To achieve this, he often executes dozens of trial runs before settling on the perfect combination of temperature and size.

Once the ideal cloud is created, a photographer captures it immediately as its beauty is fleeting. The minimalist locations chosen for each artwork heighten the drama by emphasizing the contrast between the soft clouds and hard architectural elements in sharp focus.

Berndnaut’s Nimbus series has been met with enthusiasm from art enthusiasts around the world who appreciate his unique vision and creative process—so much so that marketers from Silicon Valley have even approached him to make works at conventions. But the artist views his sculptural creations more as a form of temporal artwork than a parlor trick, explaining that they represent “the edge of materiality” and stand in for both the divine and misfortune. As Berndnaut hopes to one day bring his Nimbus series to the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, we can’t wait to see how he will inspire us with this captivating art form once again.

For more info: Berndnaut Smilde  | Nimbus

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