Welcome to CFile’s Year in Review! We’re revisiting our favorite posts. They’re arranged in no particular order. We’re not commenting on the quality of what we did (or didn’t) include. Rather, we’re reminiscing about all of the fine things ceramics has given us over the last two years. Think of it as a victory lap. We may revisit some of these lists in the spring for a special project, so please let us know what you think of them in the comments.
Here, we’ll look back at brick and tile art, exhibitions and interventions.
“During the inter-war period, modern, functionalist designs in glass and concrete were thought to have comprehensively dethroned the traditional brick architecture of Berlage, Kropholler and the Amsterdam School. Yet The Netherlands builds in brick, a wide-ranging exhibition shows that brick architecture continued to develop alongside modernism. Illustrations of that are the expressive brickwork of the Shipping Office Building by Joan van der Mey, and the solidly majestic quality of a residence designed by Willem Kromhout in Noordwijk aan Zee, which rises out of the dunes like a fort.”
Chicago artist Jim Bachor won’t succumb to the negativity of potholes. Rather than treating them as something to be despised and fought against, what if they could be something that enhances their environment? Bachor, who is inspired by the timelessness of ancient mosaics, spent the summer of 2013 installing tile mosaics in potholes across Chicago. The subjects of these murals reframe your relationship to something that was previously hateful. Who can honestly say that they hate ice cream?
For the last 100 days, as world leaders prepared for a U.N. climate summit and as the air above northern China took on the look of a smoker’s lung, performance artist Wang Renzheng, known as “Nut Brother” has been vacuuming the air in Beijing. Dressed like a janitor-turned-end-times-prophet in blue coveralls and a gas mask, Nut Brother has spent four hours each day collecting pollutants that would normally end up in the lungs of the city’s 11.5 million residents. At the end of the 100 days, Nut Brother mixed the dust with clay and shaped it into a brick.
Silverman presented a series of tiled works, Tirana, an homage to artist Edi Rama who became the mayor of Tirana, Albania in October 2000. The works commemorate old soviet architecture and Rama’s bold plan to turn them into a refreshing source of beauty, rather than a reminder of the political past. The story reminds us of similar public works projects that have attempted to heal the soul of a community, in particular of the tile mosiacs that have gone up in the city of Jacmel after an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010.
“The design is composed of a series of geometric elements defined by strong vertical gestures and intersected by horizontal courses, punctuated by semi-spherical indentations. In the centre five sinuous, dynamic forms emerge from the wall which, according to Vergeest, “call to mind bodies or plants, and stones gradually polished by water, sand and wind.” Moore specifically chose to use Dutch bricks over English bricks due to their smaller size.”
Sebastian Erras, a photographer from Amberg, Germany, started his own art project/public service announcement about mosaics. His Parisian Floors project showcases ornate tile work he finds in the City of Art. Each floor is cropped and frames Erras’ feet within the shot. The message (other than “this guy’s shoes seem to match every mosaic in Paris”) is to pause and to take account of your surroundings, because there could be something incredible you otherwise would have glossed over. He uploads the pictures to his Instagram account, along with addresses where people can find the tile work for themselves. Each photograph is an invitation for the viewer to see Paris from Erras’ perspective.
Jabali, a third generation Palestinian, said he is disassociated from the problems present Palestinians face on a daily basis, but he wanted to use his skills as a designer to help alleviate some of the humanitarian issues that continue during the conflict.
From the designers:
“Rombini is an alphabet of shapes and colors. The project consists of three models: tile, mosaic and relief elements. It is a collection that offers a complete solution, allowing different combinations; rhythmic and colorful connections ranging from the tile to the mosaic; from the mosaic to the relief; from the relief to the tile.”
The building is notable for its handcrafted ceramic tiles that feature crystalline structures. These were designed by London ceramic artist Kate Malone. The motif is shared by the building’s bronze plinth. The bronze panels were designed by Michael Eden in collaboration with Malone.
Back in February we wrote about the danger facing Eduardo Paolozzi’s mosaics which have adorned the walls of London’s Tottenham Court Road tube station. The mosaics, at least a few of them, had to come down due to reconstruction efforts in the station.
The new work includes “nine large medallions” containing images of birds, vases, fish and beasts, surrounded by interlocking forms and smaller rectangles that also contain fauna. The larger Lod Mosaic features similar animals, but also scenes of ships surrounded by large sea creatures. The pair of works look just as articulate as when Roman socialites tread on them nearly two millennia ago.
Rehberger worked with Fondation Beyeler of Switzerland to bring a large pornography mural installation to this month’s Art Basel Miami. The mural is titled, 1661-1910 from Nagasaki, Meiji, Setti. Like trying to load a dirty picture on a 56k modem back in the day, the image is heavily pixelated. According to Dezeen, the image on the walls remains blocky noise until it is photographed and seen on a smaller screen. How many people passively walked through the installation without realizing all of the risqué things they were seeing?
He welcomes the limitations of the virtual and physical technologies employed, and any errors that these devices introduce are welcomed. They play a large part in the resulting look of the work, as well as influencing the initial plans for each piece. Lack of control is in constant conflict (the artist prefers the term “play”) with precise design. After working so much with paint over the years, “I’m finding I’m preferring the qualities of the clay. And I am using clay for this reason, as well as because of my imagery coming from Pugin’s designs for ceramics.”
Though bricks as an artistic medium are faithful to the doctrine of minimalism ‘seeking temperate formal aesthetics and essence by pursuing the simplest and concise way with the characteristics of simplicity, repetition, and property of material, they exist beyond the modular concept of minimalism due to the numerous symbolic representations of brick itself.
Thus, the existence of WABA, that utilizes brick as an artistic medium has such strong meaning, and their love and use of brick is understandable. Bricks themselves are the icon of architecture and metaphor of life.
In 2010 the Török és Balázs Építészeti Kft. architecture firm built a library in the Hungarian city of Pécs. Their design includes a “beehive,” a symbol of reason and learning which is clad in tiles manufactured at the city’s storied Zsolnay Factory.
The firm described the beehive structure in ArchDaily as “a place of abstract thinking: a metaphor for the freedom of knowledge and also, in reverse, for the knowledge of freedom.”
What do you think of the brick and tile works above? Let us know in the comments!