Lonely Planet Writer

An artist creates miniature clouds in spaces around the world

Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde has spent the last few years travelling the world to share his incredible and unique art installations to a diverse selection of audiences. His most famous work to date is his Nimbus series, a project that sees him creating hyper-realistic miniature clouds in unique spaces such as museums, factories, castles and dungeons.

A realistic cloud installation by Berndnaut Smilde
Nimbus Duguan at Himalayas Museum, 2015 by Berndnaut Smilde. Image by Nina Chen

The clouds last only a few seconds, forming just long enough to be photographed, and are created through a process that sees Smilde misting the area with water vapour before pumping smoke from a machine. The water particles then stick to the smoke to form the fleeting installations.

Nimbus De Groen by Berndnaut Smilde.
Nimbus De Groen by Berndnaut Smilde. Image by Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

The artist has travelled to a range of destinations around the world, either to create the magical sculptures or to exhibit photographs or other installations. Countries that he has created clouds in include China, Belgium, the United States, Italy, Turkey, Ireland and Germany. His latest residency in Western Australia commissioned by FORM allowed the artist to create his first Nimbus piece outside, where he reacted to the ancient landscape of the Pilbara region.

Nimbus Karijini at Western Australia by Berndnaut Smilde.
Nimbus Karijini at Western Australia by Berndnaut Smilde. Image by Bewley Shaylor

Smilde’s work has also been included in a range of solo and group shows in galleries around the world, and a brand new solo exhibition at London’s Ronchini Gallery is due to debut on 18 May.

Nimbus Midland by Berndnaut Smilde.
Nimbus Midland by Berndnaut Smilde. Image by Bewley Shaylor

The new exhibition is titled Dismantled Ruben, an anagram of the artist’s own name, and will feature a new video installation, sculpture and neon wall works alongside his well-known Nimbus photography series. The exhibition also coincides with the release of Smilde’s first monograph, Builded Remnants.

Nimbus Sankt Peter by Berndnaut Smilde.
Nimbus Sankt Peter by Berndnaut Smilde. Image by Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

Smilde has stated that his work stems from his deep interest in the temporal nature of construction and deconstruction, referring to both the physical state of a building as well as a moment of revelation that depicts either hope or fragility.

Nimbus Roebourne by Berndnaut Smilde.
Nimbus Roebourne by Berndnaut Smilde. Image by Bewley Shaylor

Awards for his creations include a start stipend from The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, and he also served as resident artist at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin in 2008.