NEW YORK CITY — NYC-based artist Paolo Canevari (born 1963) is originally from Rome. His career spans a variety of media, including animation, drawing, installation art and sculpture. The pieces we have to show you today are Canevari’s “bucchero” vessels, a clay form that originates in his home country.
Above image: Paolo Canevari, Bucchero 10, 2016, from Giustini/Stagetti Galleria O. Roma.
Bucchero ceramics go way back. The name refers to an artform that originated in pre-Roman times in the Etruscan population of central Italy. It’s possible that bucchero takes its name from a variety of roots: Latin’s poculum, meaning a drinking vessel, Spanish búcaro or púcaro in Portuguese. The latter name is especially interesting, as Wikipedia tells us it translates to “odorous clay.” Apparently the older ceramics had a scent to them.
Canevari’s bucchero drifts a little from its drinking vessel roots, as the artist has filled them with window-like cuts. In this way they’re architectural.
About the Artist
Working across multiple mediums, from sculpture and installation to drawing and video, Paolo Canevari creates works that are both simply executed and intricately conceived, according to his Artspace profile. His performance Colosso (2004) featured the artist carrying a model sculpture of the Colosseum on his shoulders, alluding to the weight of the Italian artistic tradition that he must bear. In Canevari’s video Bouncing Skull (2007), a human skull is treated as a soccer ball, becoming a living memento mori integrated into the banalities of youth. Speaking on his oeuvre, the artist states, “Life and death have been a source of inspiration for centuries for artists. I’m not an exception.” Canevari’s works have been included in the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial and are exhibited at numerous public and private institutions, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Hong Kong, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, and the Museum of Modern Art.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.