Brian Rochefort is a mixed media sculptor working in ceramics, glaze (on vessels) and automotive paint (on sculpture). Born and raised in Rhode Island he received his BFA in Ceramics at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2007. He was awarded the Lillian Fellowship from the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana 2007-2008. After a two year residency he moved to Los Angeles to setup his sculpture studio where he continues a progressive body of work titled “Energy Gloops.”
This sleek, powerful work has been gaining attention for him as an emerging sculptor. However, this is not the subject of this post. We will look at his Gloops in depth in a few weeks. What drew me to him were his mugs or cups. I did not even connect the two bodies of work as being the same artist.
The cups shown here are all in the CFile Shop which one may consider a conflict of interest. But this post was planned long before the shop buyer obtained the pieces for us. Plus we pay for them and they have almost sold out, so our ill-gotten gains are limited. Lastly we had the opportunity to live with and and handle the work for three weeks.
The work intrigued me for many reasons. It raises a discussion about how context, categories, scale and function collide and confuse. They are as much about art as his sculpture, yet priced like handmade cups. However, they are not utilitarian. They are heavy and big, difficult to wash and a little dangerous with a surface that has some razor sharp projections. Yet the market has been treating them the same way as a they would a mug from a functional potter. We are adding to this misinterpretation by showing it in our MugZone but for the time being it’s the only place on this site for these one-of-a-kind works. Also note that he is shown by Mindy Solomon Gallery.
What they contain is some of the most exciting radical glaze painting (a genre which CFile keeps pointing out is growing in stature) that I have seen in a long time. There is more control in the result than one might imagine, the multiple firings require forethought, but still results in an abstract expressionist, polychromatic, hyper-tactile coulee that is remarkably rich, unctuous and immediate.
Some might carp about the fact that the work bears no relationship to his sculpture, hinting of a lack of direction. But far from being schizophrenic, I see this as smart. He understands that what makes his sculpture sing is not the right song for the vessel. Rochefort is an enthusiastic colorist. He tried bringing this to his sculpture while at Archie Bray and while his handing of the surface was masterful in a commercial-art kind of way, it also was a small disaster. His sculptures, at least the current thread, are best in their sleek monochrome coats.
The cups intrigue because they have no front view and the quality of the painterly visual experience continues in the round, each quarter turn of the cup reveals a new “canvas” that is remarkably different to the previous one. Finally, unlike the sculpture that hides the ceramic qualities, they revel in their medium, high mass goblets for glaze worship.
Garth Clark is the Chief Editor of CFile.
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