You rolled out of bed and made it to work on a Monday. Congratulations! As your positive reinforcement for the day, we have a new collection of Spotted, our beginning-of-the-week roundup of sightings from the world of contemporary ceramic art. This week we’re starting off with the work of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein.
Above image: Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Untitled (Yellow and gold vessel), no date, oven-fired ceramic and paint, 9 x 6 inches, Image courtesy of Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia.
You may remember Von Bruenchenhein (1910 – 1983) from his painting. He started his painting career while working in a bakery, according to his Artsy profile. He was very DIY; his canvases were cardboard boxes he snatched from the bakery and he painted with everything from his fingers, to combs, quills, sticks and cooking utensils.
The subjects of his paintings were inversely futuristic. He painted mushroom clouds, fantastical cities and mythical beasts. After 1963, Von Bruenchenhein turned his attention to sculpture, giving us these fantastic ceramic works we’re showing here today.
Francisco “Pancho” Jiménez in California
Santa Clara, California-based artist Francisco (Pancho) Jiménez explores the illusiveness of dreams and memory in his first Bay Area solo museum exhibition, Excavations and Interpretations. Opening August 20, 2016 at the Triton Museum of Art, the show will highlight works made within the last five years. The exhibition will be on view through October 23, 2016.
After spending the first half of his career creating meticulously carved ceramic sculptures adorned with geometric forms, Jiménez, who is a senior lecturer at Santa Clara University, was forced to develop a new method of working following a repetitive motion injury. Shifting to an additive rather than reductive process, Jiménez began repurposing commercial ceramic molds, originally used to make decorative objects such as figurines, tchotchkes, and holiday decorations. He simultaneously adopted a new, more contemporary visual vocabulary that changed the character of his work.
By joining together molded forms in unlikely combinations, Jiménez transforms kitsch elements into complex pieces with a rich and relevant focus. The juxtaposition of shapes in his sculptures may at first seem haphazard, but they are intentionally crafted to mimic the illusiveness of memory as it advances and recedes over time.
Over the years Jiménez’s new visual language has matured and his interest in contemporary culture has expanded. As a result, current issues begin to manifest in works like Animals (2016), Children (2016), and Bullets (2016), all of which incite reflection on the inevitable loss of human life that results from the use of weapons.
In pieces such as Mohawk (2016), Hipster (2016), and Pigtails (2016) the archetype of the individual becomes the focus. In these works, Jiménez builds featureless busts that act as portraits of fictional characters through the unlikely avenue of hair. Pieced together through a combination of molded forms—baby bottles, cherubs faces, bunnies, and shoes—the elements come together like pieces of a puzzle, forming a tangible record of life’s experiences.
Text (edited) courtesy of the museum.
Louis Hock Builds a Wall Ahead of Trump
The creative expressions of Trump’s supporters take one of two forms. They’re either cosplaying as colonialists wearing tri-corner hats and a bunch of anachronistic, xenophobic political buttons, or they’re hanging a Gadsden flag off the back of their Rascal scooter and calling it a day. It’s all very one-note.
On the other side of the political fence, we have artists like Louis Hock, a guy who, unlike most of middle America, actually bothers to talk to people who look different from himself. Since the 1970s Hock has made videos documenting the lives of Mexican immigrants who were his neighbors (and probably yours, too). He created performance art projects involving day laborers and in the 1990s he cut a hole in our border fence so family members could kiss, hold their children or exchange gifts.
The Art Newspaper reports that Hock built a massive wall inside the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego. It would be a short 15-mile jaunt to the site of the actual wall that will be built should the hooting morons you keep seeing on the news pull off their government takeover.
Hock’s point is to confront people with the reality of their rhetoric. You want a wall? Here’s what one looks like. Here’s what you’d pay for. Here’s the cold, sterile, gray, anti-human reality of what you wanted. Enjoy!
His wall was not, he said, originally inspired by the presidential candidate Donald Trump, but it is resolutely anti-Trump. “This project has been in the making for a couple of years, before he surfaced as a politician, but it goes head to head with everything Donald Trump represents: fear, racism and the hatred of immigrants,” the artist said when reached by phone.
At 85 feet long and almost 8 feet high, running diagonally through a space that used to be a train station baggage depot, Hock’s wall is meant to trip up visitors.
“I hope it makes you think in some small way about what happens when a wall runs through a community. Seeing a wall in a magazine or on the internet is not the same as facing a wall in person. A wall takes something away from you,” he said. Hock went on to discuss the alienating, wall-like power of Richard Serra’s controversial steel sculpture Tilted Arc (1981), which was removed from the Foley Federal Plaza in Manhattan following complaints from city workers.
In all, I like expressions like this one over the “lol Trump has a small dick” sculpture that was tearing up the Internet a few weeks ago. This probably means that Hock’s sculpture won’t have a tenth of the impact the other did. It also falls short because, let’s face it, it’s not like the targets of the wall’s criticism are ever going to see it. America has never excelled at quiet self-reflection and personal growth.
What a Difference a Bottle Stopper Makes
I occasionally get design déjà vu while writing for CFile. Case in point: Martin Kraus’s Four Seasons Series of Perfume Bottles from 2014. Something about it was setting off notifications in my brain. Compare, if you will, the similarity of shapes between Kraus’s bottle and this garlic bottle by photoAlquimia studio.
We’re not saying the designs are copying one another, far from it. What this suggests is that, as vast as design seems, there is a vocabulary of shapes, repeating images. Even though Kraus’ work reminded us of a clove of garlic, we never reach that fatal association with his perfume bottles. Why? Our Editor-in-Chief Garth Clark thinks the critical difference comes from the wooden bottle stoppers. They change the entire character of the work. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Joanne Greenbaum: New Paintings and Sculptures
Rachel Uffner Gallery is pleased to present Joanne Greenbaum’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. Greenbaum’s first show inaugurated the gallery’s newly expanded space, this show will span both floors of the gallery’s exhibition space with a focus on paintings in the downstairs gallery and on sculpture upstairs.
Anchoring the ground floor will be Greenbaum’s largest painting to date alongside several paintings of varying sizes. Using a wide range of materials, Greenbaum infuses her paintings with elements of drawing. Examining both form and narrative, Greenbaum perpetually changes, adds, or negates her own actions, simultaneously celebrating and questioning the act of painting. Upstairs, the sculptures reveal the artist’s strong affiliation with form as a structure for further mark making.
Joanne Greenbaum has participated in numerous exhibitions in the United States and Europe. Recent solo exhibitions include greengrassi (London, UK), Richard Telles Fine Art (Los Angeles, CA), Texas Gallery (Houston, TX) Galerie Crone (Berlin, DE), Nicolas Krupp (Basel, CH), Shane Campbell Gallery (Chicago, IL), and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Overland Park, KS). In 2008-2009 a career-spanning survey of her work was exhibited by Haus Konstruktiv (Zurich, CH) and traveled to Museum Abteiberg (Mönchengladbach, DE). Greenbaum lives and works in New York City.
Text (edited) courtesy of the gallery. Click here to read a HyperAllergic review of the show.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.