Welcome back to Spotted, your weekly resource for exciting one-off finds in the worlds of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art. Our artists this week are all mega-huge! We’re calling this the “Headliners!” edition of Spotted. This week, we’re starting off with the work of Paris-based artist Johan Creten, Bi-Boy (2013 – 2015).
The Flemish sculptor, known for his semi-abstract, viscerally biomorphic works, has been credited by none other than the director of Sèvres Porcelain Factory as instrumental in elevating ceramics to the level of high art, according to his Artsy biography. Working alone in his studio, Creten crafts unsettling works whose contorted shapes and intricate surfaces explore heady themes like sexuality, social injustice, and Creten’s perceived position as an outsider looking into the art world. However, it is beauty that forms the heart of his practice: “Beauty becomes a lubricant for me,” he says. “Beauty can help convey difficult meaning.” Though he works almost entirely in clay, Creten is constantly experimenting with new materials and glazes, drawing inspiration from the centuries of art history in his native Flanders.
Yin Xiuzhen at Pace Hong Kong
These images are collected from artist Yin Xiuzhen’s exhibition The Instrument of Spirit (Hong Kong, November 25, 2016 – January 27, 2017). The gallery states of the artist:
A leading female figure in Chinese contemporary art, Yin Xiuzhen (b. 1963, Beijing, China) began her career in the early 1990s following her graduation from Capital Normal University in Beijing where she received a B.A. in oil painting from the Fine Arts Department in 1989. Her artworks have since been shown extensively in various international exhibitions. Best known for her works that incorporate second-hand objects, Yin uses her artwork to explore modern issues of globalization and homogenization. By utilizing recycled materials such as sculptural documents of memory, she seeks to personalize objects and allude to the lives of specific individuals, which are often neglected in the drive toward excessive urbanization, rapid modern development and the growing global economy. The artist explains, “In a rapidly changing China, ‘memory’ seems to vanish more quickly than everything else. That’s why preserving memory has become an alternative way of life.”
From the artist’s biography:
Mark Manders has, since 1986, been working on a monumental series, “Self Portraits as a Building”, which now defines his practice and his career. These, as the title suggests, are Manders’ attempt to map out his own identity through objects and text. The series includes a wide stylistic range of sculptures, installations, and drawings; the way in which Manders amasses and presents materials has been compared to physical manifestation of sentences, narratives, and language. His sculptures and installations are assemblages of figural elements, resembling parts of human bodies or animals, with more abstract and geometric forms. Manders uses a combination of found materials including household furniture, archaeological fragments, raw wood, and architectural pieces.
From the artist’s biography on Artsy:
New York and Warsaw–based artist Piotr Uklanski’s installations, photography, collages, performances, and films often explore postwar European and American aesthetics and politics, with references including Art Brut—as in his resin paintings with heavy impasto surfaces and woven-fiber painting, part of a 2009 exhibition at Gagosian entitled “Brut”—the red and white of the Polish flag, and hippie culture (as in recent paintings comprising tie-dyed bed sheets with portions of color strategically removed with bleach).
Since the late 1970s—when he studied with renowned German artist Gerhard Richter—Thomas Schütte has been subverting traditional art historical genres through his eclectic output of sculptures, prints, installations, drawings, watercolors, and photographs, according to his Artsy biography. Schütte makes familiar forms of expression, like memorial portraiture and figurative sculpture, strange through evocative, often disturbing alterations, such as in his treatment of the female nude in his “Bronzefrauen” series (Bronze Women, 1999-ongoing) where figurative shapes morph into abstract or mutant forms, or his “Alte Freunde” series, in which the subjects’ despondent expressions highlight the vulnerability of the individual against the cruelty and complexity of the vast world. Through his work he explores the human condition, offering a critical perspective on social, cultural, and political issues and visually eloquent commentary on memory, loss, and the difficulty of memorializing the past.
Claiming, “I think I’m a full-time artist, a full-time urban planner, and a full-time preacher with an aspiration of no longer needing any of those titles,” Theaster Gates makes work focused on racism and poverty in America, and works to make change in downtrodden communities across the country, according to his Artsy biography. His practice is grounded in African-American history and culture, and in his own experience growing up on the South Side of Chicago. Slavery, industrial exploitation, and the Civil Rights Movement feature prominently in his sculptures, installations, and performances, into which he incorporates such materials as shoe shine stations and fire hoses. During the 2008 financial crisis, Gates decided to focus on fostering improvement through art. Starting in his own neighborhood and expanding to other communities, he has effectively rejuvenated numerous abandoned buildings, transforming them into vibrant social hubs and cultural spaces.
Richard Tuttle’s multifarious oeuvre is a study in scale and line using common materials that have been inventively assembled and exhibited, according to his Artsy biography. Much of Tuttle’s work rethinks the potential of the line; the installation Ten Kinds of Memory and Memory Itself (1973) featured a pencil line that detached from the wall it was drawn on and continued as string along the floor. Tuttle’s sculptures experiment with space in similarly inspired ways and are constructed using a panoply of industrial and organic materials, including shrink wrap, tape, metal, paper, and balloons.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.