Maybe this is just a side effect of the cold rain hitting my windows, but I really appreciate the way fire appears to have left artifacts of itself behind in the finished products. It’s an obvious recipe, clay and fire, but it’s so plainly seen on these works. Many of the forms have tissue-thin layers, shearing apart like shalestone. Others show the glaze splitting and cracking. I’m reminded of the way paper burns, the way it flakes apart before finally turning into ash. The glaze looks like paint still clinging to the walls of a burned house. Heat is so present in these works. It’s a wonder they aren’t steaming, even as they sit in the gallery.
In a statement to Puls Ceramics, Pérez describes an intense firing process he calls “volcanic.”
“As always, my work is about surprising myself and the audience. I use white porcelain and black earthenware clay together, fired at a high temperature. These materials respond differently to the same forces at work during the firing. The earthenware expands and erupts, creating a volcanic landscape – but not a natural one. What emerges from the fire is not mere chance or just a happy accident. That is because it is directed by me. I impose my will on the materials to the extent that I create the cuts and layers that interact within the kiln. From the beginning there is order demanded from the clays. Nevertheless, it is an order that follows the rules of nature as well as man. That is why the element of surprise is always present. What happens in the kiln is unpredictable.”
Contemporary Ceramics, in their writeup about Pérez, said that his distinguishing characteristic was his “apparently matter-of-fact use of ceramic materials and methods to dispel rather than reinforce the sense of ceramics as a discipline.” The way he uses clay skews the line between ceramics, painting, sculpture and performance art. You can see a bit of that at work in the videos we linked to this post.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.