The gallery writes, “Sacaridiz is at a place in his practice where his skills and intellect collide. Taken on their own, Sacaridiz’s objects bear no resemblance or connection, but when one places disparate components in close proximity, his art intimates a cohesive narrative. Individually these are hermetic sculptures whose power grows in relationship to the other works, making their interest grow where otherwise only formal concern might reside.”
The artist enlarges on this idea:
“The problem with objects is that they can be so specific…I am interested in the collision of abstraction, urban planning and utopian systems; and the seemingly impossible task of understanding something in its entirety. My work carefully situates objects within systems that seem to imply an internal logic, but at the same time appear illusive and open-ended. Structures carefully frame out objects that appear random and chaotic alongside precise mathematical models and awkward structural forms… highly constructed, layered and insistent on being understood for what it is, rather than as placeholder for metaphor or illusion.”
Let me preface this by saying that Sacaridiz is an excellent sculptor but underexposed. Thus you may not be familiar with his earlier, stronger work. This show does not exhibit his talent. In earlier shows his juxtaposition between loose abstraction and tightly designed complex forms did set up a dialogue. But not in this exhibition.
Moreover the forms are derivative. Everyone seems to be drawing with extruded clay tubes, making poo-piles and the installation style he is working is one of the most trafficked areas in ceramics sculpture. I cannot count the number of look-alike shows that have crossed my path.
Del Harrow is arguably one of the earliest and best but we are seeing the same elements presented in shows again and again and it is getting very tired, very quickly. The broader art world (i.e. not ceramic) got hooked on this vocabulary, too, but began to move away from it several years ago. Somehow it stuck to the kiln.
This poplar style is at that junction where fractal fascination meets fecal form. To compete or even give a reason for its continued life requires innovation that the exhibition does not possess.
But the exhibition is not without its strengths. The painterlyness, slashes of color on forms or pedestals is engaging and its softness is a good contrast to the rigidity of his work on paper. It also shows Sacaridiz’s eye for somewhat synthetic-feeling color.
I have just returned from Australia. In Sydney I visited some artists in their studios and saw a plethora of forms exactly the same as Sacaridiz. I received the shows’ photographs on the same day. Perhaps this mirror of ubiquity is what has promoted the sharpness of my tone.
Sacaridiz is one of the field’s most important intellectual voices and I have great admiration for his views and critical perspectives. Again, I have seen earlier work that actually does fully frame out his statements above and is far more original. So don’t write him off! Better work will be coming once this phase is over.
Paul Sacaridiz (b.1970) lives and works in Deer Isle, Maine where is Executive Director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. As an artist his work encompasses the making of sculpture and leadership within academic and not for profit arenas. His work has been included in exhibitions at the Charles Allis Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft among others. He has been the recipient of numerous artist residencies including the Ragdale Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts and the Arts/Industry Program at Kohler Company. He is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics and has served on the board of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). Prior to leading Haystack he was Professor and Chair in the Department of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Garth Clark is the Chief Editor of cfile.daily.
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