SANTA FE––Gerald Peters has corralled scholar, historian and noted critic, Garth Clark, to curate VASA VASORUM: The Vase in Contemporary Art and Design, a group exhibition with over 30 artists from seven countries, each analyzing and reinventing the vase with surprising conclusions.
As Garth Clark explains:
“Vasa Varorum is a play on words. In direct Latin translation it means “the vessels of the vessels” and was coopted by the medical profession to describe a network of blood vessels that supply the walls of large blood vessels, such as an aorta or any large veins such as venae cavae. Vasa Vasorum is also the perfect title for the vast group show of vases by over 30 international artists”.
Featured image: Chris Wight, Portland Arcana (in individual sculptures), Waterjet-cut, slab-rolled black and white Jasper. Each: 10 x 7 x 7 inches; Installation 10 x 46 x 7 inches
One can be excused for being underwhelmed. A vase show? Really? Isn’t that the ultimate cliché? Isn’t the vase the most ubiquitous decorative vessel? Yes, but its banality is its power and reach, a source of endless metaphor and conceptual play.
Clark examines the form in an expanded context, for instance the expensive vase as a trophy, suggesting wealth, prestige and taste. In 18th-century France owning a Sevres garniture set, a group of three to nine porcelain vases set above the fireplace, often filled with porcelain flowers to boot, bought one influence with the King as the factory was a Royal enterprise.
The exhibition also explores the role of the vase as an anchor object in still life, and its fragility and worth as an heirloom or an antique treasure (a vase from the Early Imperial kiln in China can set you back more than $38 million). In turn, damaging such an icon opens the theme of anxiety and destruction into the show. In a film if the camera hesitates for a few seconds on a vase, one knows its fate, before the film ends, it will be in smithereens something Ai Weiwei used to such powerful effect with his triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995).
Navajo Artist Christine Nofchissey McHorse has created a thrilling three lobed vase in her inimitable style. Laurent Craste from Canada attacks the vase form, a metaphor the human figure, whacks it with a baseball bat, stabs it in the back with scissors or uses darts to turn into a latter day St Francis.
Anne Marie Laureys from Belgium has created soft vases that appear to be underwater coral creatures. Janice Jakielski from the USA makes porcelain books into paper vases in a Sevres porcelain theme. Jeff Koons “Split Rocker Vase” in bisque porcelain gives a sculptural Pop presence The Haas Brothers bring in the erotic with their phallic “Accretions” vases.
Bouke Devries trained as a restorer and never touches clay in his art, he makes restructured assemblages of found vases, shared and other forms. Wight’s works is perhaps the most extraordinary technically speaking, a suite of eight vases that pay homage to the most famous vase in the world, the Portland Vase, a Roman antiquity made even more famous by Josiah Wedgwood when his copies it in Jasper Ware, issuing the first modern limited edition ceramic in the world. Wight’s vases are assembled like a 3-D drawings. The components are cut from sheets of bone china with a computer controlled water saw. What this reveals is the Portland vase’s architecture, like is building with its structural metal frame in place. This is the first time the series of eight have been exhibited together.
From Peter Pincus we get vases from the fields greatest and most hedonistic colorist. His work is precision painted inside the mold which then attaches itself to a slip cast vessels. Molds are key to Del Harrow’s art as well. They are born in the digital format then ingeniously realized in analog technology.
Artists in the exhibition include Stuart J. Asprey, Joan Bankemper, Laurent Craste, Bouke de Vries, Kim Dickey, Chris Gustin, The Haas Brothers, Del Harrow, Molly Hatch, Doug Herren, King Houndekpinkou, Janice Jakielski, Martin Klimas, Jeff Koons, Jami Porter Lara, Anne Marie Laureys, Steven Lee, Robert Mapplethorpe, Tony Marsh, Christine Nofchissey McHorse, Steven Montgomery, Gustavo Pérez, Peter Pincus, Ken Price, Ettore Sottsass, Dirk Staschke, Cammie Storos, Akio Takamori, Chris Wight, Betty Woodman, Tetsuya Yamada and Eric Zetterquist. Work will be added and changed throughout the run of the exhibition.
To check out the online catalog, click here!
Not to be missed, the exhibition runs from June 8 – October 6, 2018.
Text from the gallery.