COPENHAGEN—Michael Geertsen‘s latest exhibition VASES at Køppe Contemporary Objects (January 12 – February 10, 2017), which wrapped up last week, features the artist’s return to age-old, traditional ceramic forms: cup, vase and plate, continuing his tireless investigations of the history and culture in ceramics. The exhibition invites the audience to reverse a historical journey from Song-dynasty China via the Empire style of Napoleonic France to contemporary deconstruction.
The vase as object is described using terms from human anatomy and may be perceived as an abstract figuration of the human body with a lip, neck, shoulders, waist, belly and foot.
Featured image: Michael Geertsen, Lidded Vase, 2017, Handthrown porcelain with blue and orange glaze, gold and platinum luster, 60 x 40cm
These porcelain, stoneware and earthenware body parts appear to ebulliently gibe at Victorian ceramics with their distinct differentiated into separate elements. Geertsen’s deictic forms are similarly deconstructed, interpreted, exaggerated, understated and caricatured in narratives that move freely among different style periods and cultures.
His intention is not to copy or imitate, but rather to quote the proportions and form of the vase. Some of the works are interpretations of specific, named vases, while other carry references to historical style periods.
Each piece is presented as showpieces on individual wooden plinths elevating each, allowing it to achieve high status, a continuation of the traditional perception of the vase as the most sublime cultural expression. This is start contrast to the reduced role of the vase today, when it is no longer a bearer of culture but simply a flower vase.
Geertsen employs classical glazes—celadon, oxblood and Bleu de Sèvres—which are applied in a post-modern style and supplemented with industrial, commercial glazes, an orange ‘hippie glaze (as a throwback to the 1970s) and, in places, gold and platinum luster is added.
With Geertsen’s background in traditional pottery and experience as a production thrower, he brings his grasp of the capacity and potentials of the material into play as he decodes the medium through other cultures and time periods and interprets them into a new fugal artistic language.
Watch these videos of Geertsen in action making his more abstract forms:
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