Welcome to our Exhibition Digest series, where each month we unroll all the hot new ceramics exhibitions that you’ve gotta know about. Digests signifies less talk from us and loads of beautiful exhibition shots to ogle. Directions: Scroll Cfile digestifs after dinner!
Kukuli Velarde and Liane Lang
James Freeman Gallery, London
4 October – 27 October, 2018
There is no mystery why James Freeman paired painter Liane Lang and ceramist Kukuli Velarde in an exhibition at his gallery, considering they both implement specific art historical traditions in their works as means to delve into the meaning of feminine identity. For Velarde, that is pre-Colombian ceramics and iconography from the 16th century, while Lang focuses on the Pygmalion tradition, “where female figures are idealized to the point where they are brought to life.”
Feature Image: Polly Apfelbaum, Aquarius, 2018. Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London
“In Galatea, the Greek nymph and origin of the tradition, appears on a bed waking into mortality, only to reappear later as a lonesome daydreamer staring out to sea or in the Villa Borghese gardens hiding in a bush with a pair of hands peeping out as if emerging from a tryst. Liane’s prints on marble see these same hands reaching to touch a statue of Saint Cecilia, or interfering with a sculpture of Joan of Arc. Liane’s work is underpinned by a mischievous desire to touch what is held apart as authoritative, a need to breach the distance between the person and the institution and turn the latter into something sensual.” –James Freeman Gallery
“Peru’s colonial past is important: it is a culture which for centuries was obliged to imitate the Catholic art introduced by the Other. Within this context Kukuli uses indigenous art history not just as a nod to the past, but as a vessel to channel a pugnacious and independent spirit. Questions of race, of colonial history, of gender and power hierarchies – these all find voice through a suite of subversive sculptures that underline the importance of our relationships with our cultural objects.” –James Freeman Gallery
Polly Apfelbaum | Waiting for the UFOs (a space set between a landscape and a bunch of flowers)
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK
19 September – 18 November 2018
New York-based multimedia artist Polly Apfelbaum is renowned for her socio-political artworks that utilize a broad range of materials. Waiting for the UFO’s features large-scale colorful installations of textiles, ceramics and drawings. It is apparent that all the work in this exhibition Apfelbaum created specifically for this exhibition at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. More than one hundred ceramic targets all named after constellations. Referencing singer-songwriter Graham Parker and surrealist painter Rene Magritte, Apfelbaum blurs and challenges lines regarding high art and craft, appropriation, sexuality, notions of extra-terrestrial life and post-war American Art.
“At Ikon, Apfelbaum aims to create communication and participation between the visitors and the piece. Perceiving the gallery space as a landscape, to be populated by both her and visitors to the exhibition, “Its important to me that people have to move through the work so the spectator activates it and participates in the experience. As you move through the installation, perspective, light and parallax are constantly changing the way you see the work in space.”’ -Eleanor Forrest
“Apfelbaum’s main concern is how we experience being in the gallery, how we move from work to work – she even provides slippers for visitors to walk on the rugs. She is eager to point out that the rich vibrancy of the fluorescent pink doesn’t replicate properly digitally – this is not an exhibition to see via Instagram. It is, of course, temporary: much of the work is painted straight onto the walls, which will become another artist’s playground on 19 November. Apfelbaum’s UFOs are earthbound for now, but that flash of light across the sky can’t last forever.” – Hannah Clugston, The Guardian
Johan Creten | Alfred Paintings
Galerie Perrotin, New York
8 September – 21 October, 2018
As far as ushering ceramics into its “high art” rite of passage, Belgium-born Johan Creten‘s work is crucial and urgent to that ever-unfolding, macroscopic conversation. Frequently moving, he has called home to Mexico, Rome, Miami, Amsterdam, and currently Paris.
This most important set of 27 pieces titled Alfred Paintings was created during an artistic residency in 2013 at the New York State College of Ceramics of the prestigious Alfred University. That is where Johan Creten conceived these ceramic pieces which, by virtue of their form and format, resemble paintings. In the work of this Flemish artist, ceramics could not be a genre, an end in itself. On the contrary, since it combines clay and pigment, earth and colour, mud and drawing, ceramics enables the artist to tear down walls between genres, to render sculpture and painting porous, to generate unprecedented forms, always on the borders of fields and words– borderline ceramics.
These sculpted paintings are windows onto the world that remind us that it is not a coincidence if Johan Creten’s roots are in Flanders. These mixed earths, with whose technique he experimented in 1996 at the Villa Medici in Rome, give rise to ineffable forms, now zoomorphic, now anthropomorphic. In them one can detect slits and semantic puns (‘cherries’, ‘faggots’) which convey powerful erotic undertones. A combination of materials, bodies and dermises. But, as is often the case in Creten’s work, the political dimension is not lacking. These marbled skins are a Map of Tendre in which the world’s fragility and precarity are inlaid. As they impose slowness, patience, reflection, as they disarm prejudices and defuse commonplaces, these Alfred Paintings are assuredly manifestos for an engaged beauty.
Erskine, Hall & Coe
25 October, 2018
Irish born Sara Flynn’s fourth solo exhibition at Erskine, Hall & Coe opened at the beginning of October. This exhibition of new works will present over 30 pieces in porcelain and bronze. Once you laid eyes on it, there is no mistaking Flynn’s poetic, tranquil signature. Steady representation by London’s Erksine, Hall, and Coe has allowed Flynn to investigate the vessel’s sculptural nature, a variety of rich color schemes and amorphous shapes.
Richard Slee | Framed
Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, UK
23 October -15 December, 2018
A collaboration between Crafts Study Center and Hales Gallery, London, Richard Slee‘s new ‘picture frames’, are on view until mid-December. These frames made from clay pressed into the plaster casts of mock-baroque plastic photo frames. These pressings are sometimes altered or combined with other found patterns, textures and images.
Craft knowledge and skills are further extended into the use of colored glazed surfaces built up with layers of glaze, fired glass upon glass, responding to the created image or to the given color and surface of the found materials.
The exhibition is arranged to be a study collection of pieces: pictures at an exhibition.
Sterling Ruby | HEARTS + CLUBS
Pierre Marie Gerard Gallery
September 7 – October 6, 2018
For his third solo exhibition at Pierre Marie Giraud, Sterling Ruby presents two new bodies of work in an exhibition titled, HEARTS + CLUBS. Building upon an already extensive practice in ceramics, Ruby’s most recent exhibition is the result of tactile transformations, presenting clay works that manifest in figurative and totemic forms.
Embedded with traces of the very hands and fingers that gave them shape, the rough and uneven objects in HEARTS + CLUBS reveal urgency in their making. Fired with glossy, colored glazes and metallic lusters, these patinas are fixed and combined with the earthy textures and tones of dirt and gravel, creating capricious surfaces that coalesce in asymmetrical contours and jagged edges. HEARTS + CLUBS evoke, not card games and trump suits, but visceral bodies—material compositions suspended between formal imminence and corporeal decay. -Pierre Marie Gerard
Thanks for reading this month’s Exhibition Digest! Love or loathe these exhibition selections from the world of contemporary ceramic art and contemporary ceramics? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.