Welcome to Spotted, your weekly roundup of odds n’ ends from the world of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art. We’re starting off this week with new work from Lynda Benglis, which draws on the landscape of Santa Fe, New Mexico for inspiration. Lynda Benglis: New Work (New York, September 8 – October 22) is currently underway at the Cheim & Reid gallery. This is the most exciting ceramic work we’ve seen yet from Benglis and we’re planning to feature more in the future. From the gallery:
Since the 1960s, Lynda Benglis has been celebrated for the free, ecstatic forms she has poured, thrown and molded in ceramic, latex, polyurethane and bronze. In her new work she turns to handmade paper, which she wraps around a chicken wire armature, often painting the sand-toned surface in bright, metallic colors offset by strokes of deep, coal-based black. At other times she leaves the paper virtually bare.
These works reflect the environment in which they were made, the “sere and windblown” landscape of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as Princenthal writes in her essay. “It is possible to see the bleached bones of the land—its mesas and arroyos; its scatterings of shed snakeskins and animal skeletons—in the new sculptures’ combination of strength and delicacy.”
As a counterweight to the paper sculptures, Benglis will also exhibit The Fall Caught, a new large-scale aluminum work made by applying spray foam instead of strips of handmade paper on the chicken wire armature, as well as a new series of spiraling, hand-built black ceramics called Elephant Necklace. Benglis has said of this work, “Elephants necklaces are artifacts that I imagine in the long and short of the extrusions of life. The expulsion from the garden with the umbilical cord attached are perhaps the fragments left of the family of mammoths trunks. Having left only parts of their trunks in our imagination, I long to find out more about them through a united collaboration with Saxe Patterson, my exploration team, and others who may decide to question their existence in this hemisphere.”
You can see a video tour of the exhibition here.
Blurry Celadon Prints by Jae Yong Rhee
Korean artist Jae Yong Rhee (b. 1969) creates blurry prints, suggesting objects and locations that are either becoming looser due to the decay of memory or haven’t fully formed yet. We found a couple prints where he captures Celadon vessels in this important moment of semantic transition.
Glass by Elmgreen & Dragset Explore HIV Stigma
Michael Elmgreen (b. 1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (b. 1969 in Trondheim, Norway) are an artist duo who have been collaborating since the mid-1990s. Changing Subjects at the FLAG Art Foundation (October 1 – December 17, 2016) presents new works from the pair that address identity, sexuality, mortality and an assessment of the social value systems that surround them. The pieces we have to highlight today are from the Side Effects (2015) series. These glass vases, filled with the pigments used to coat HIV treatment medication, look at how these drugs have changed our perception of the HIV. A fix, sure, but does that justify our decrease in attention to the disease?
The artists commented on this in an interview with Vice:
Stigma, your new exhibition deals with the topic of HIV, which affects the lives of millions of people whose survival depends on combination therapy. How was this project started?
Elgreen: In the 90s, artists like Félix González-Torres or the collective General Idea did a lot to spread the discussion of AIDS, but their message didn’t run parallel to the evolution of the disease that became chronic over time. Apparently it seems that the whole crisis is over now and that the debate about this topic has been fading in the world of culture. Since people stopped dying of AIDS [in the West], the discussion isn’t on everybody’s lips anymore and the problems of 30 million people that live with the HIV virus are less media-friendly.
“Painted” Works by Derek Au
Potter Derek Au started out within the Internet startup boom before a friend suggested that he visit Jingdezhen. Au, according to his biography, has been in Jingdezhen ever since. In addition to his studio practice, he runs the glaze art website Glazy. Today we have examples from his “Painted” series. From the artist:
The history of ceramic slip decoration reaches far back into antiquity. Much as ancient pottery emulated more valuable vessels in precious metals, white slips were often applied to darker clay bodies in an effort to increase “value.” Many inventive uses for slips have evolved through the centuries, such as Cizhou black and white slip carving, Chinese “cut-glaze” slip with resist patterns, Korean slip inlay and reverse inlay patterns, and the dramatic hakeme brushed slips of Japan.
Similar to hakeme, the Painted series uses brushes to apply slip. But Painted removes the “ground” of the underlying thrown form, leaving behind only the slip. Thus the decoration determines the shape of the vessel—the form is painted.
Survey: What Do You Think of Big Clay #4?
A piece of criticism over at HyperAllergic got us thinking about the complicated relationship Manhattanites have with Urs Fischer’s sculpture Big Clay #4 (2013 – 2014). This aluminum sculpture, according to critic Jeremy Sigler, either evokes the idea of potentiality… or shit. Our editor Garth Clark tells me he thinks people are being too hard on the sculpture, but what do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Porcelain Skull Art by Katsuyo Aoki
It seems like artist Katsuyo Aoki always delivers and that’s certainly true for this photograph we collected from an exhibition between Agnews and Jason Jacques Gallery. I like the scrolling decoration around Aoki’s depiction of Death, which appears to be both fearfully chaotic and intentionally (beautifully) planned.
Terracotta-like Sculptures by Denmark’s Mariko Wada
Closing out this edition of Spotted, we have works by Mariko Wada, collected from her Facebook page. Visit her at her personal web site here. From the artist’s biography, written by curator Louise Mazanti:
With her Japanese background Mariko Wada has a natural perspective on the international ceramics scene and the reality of the globalized world. In recent years her works have explored the role of ceramics in a reality that is largely mediated and virtual. The special physical qualities of ceramics allow her works to heighten the appreciation of object and space respectively; two basic human anchor points that are greatly subjected to mediatory influences. By using the organic plasticity and material immediacy of ceramics, she creates works that demand physical presence can by described as the artistic medium that is closest of all to the person. Clay is worked directly with the hands in an intensive process that often lasts hours and days. The slow, intense working process gives ceramic objects a special immediacy. The result is not an image, but concrete, physical objects that anchor the person in a ‘here and now’ of bodiliness and sensation.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.