Raku-fired female torso sculpture, "Amour/Armour," ca. 1990; Unmarked; 22" x 15" x 9 1/2"
“Asparagus Buddess” is pulled from the semi-conscious compound of imagery and narrative that Jack Thompson has developed as a sculptor, presenting the idea for a method of communication through shared physical, phsychological and mythical imagery. Having collected a vast range of clay molds over 35 years of practice, he combines elements of older work with newer ones to create disparate or jarring composites. Here a meditative female form clashes with the phallic asparagus, the combination of differences giving the latter a seemingly violent symbolism. The airbrushed gunmetal patina loosely imparts an impression of cast iron, though its ultimate failure to conceal material origin heightens the sense of pastiche and a clashing of aspects that Thompson mischievously seeks.
Wall sculpture. Clay, slips and glazes. Size variable.
“Barbed Wire Tile” is a visual flash card — a close up image of war or violence decontextualised within the defined borders of the object, much as contemporary conflict is framed within the rational in western media. The use of clay, and the resulting material and tangible characteristics that soften and round out such a hard subject, is true to Notkin’s education and artistic development at the time of the American Funk movement and sits alongside works ostensibly made for functional use such as teapots or cups. The work remains unfired, seeking to convey its simple medium and to harness the primary nature and natural terteries of the clay. Notkin often uses such tiles in large, evenly patch-worked mosaics — engaging with similarly destructive images from contemporary and historical sources at one intersection, and discussing how easily the brutality of such calamitous events can devolve into white noise.
The manifestation of various spiritual, mythical and religious influence often becomes more defined the further back into Thompson’s oeuvre you move, as 1994 piece “Barco de los Antepasados” (or “Ancestor Boat”) presents with its four prostrating figures seated on a long boat. The ceramic’s five separate constitutional parts, scale, and overall design give the work a playfully toylike feel — which revels in proximity to a conscious religious or sacred iconography. A muted metallic finish applied by the artist with an airbrush over several layers heightens the sense of curious tactility. Thompson prefers to dilute specific cultural reference with his sculpture, using his practice to hint at common internal symbolic and psychological bonds
‘Beef Cuts’ deploys an intuitive examination of motion and spatial awareness through figurative arrangements — a modular whole developing through swarm behaviour, the artist interested in connotations or questions raised by the fragmented composition. True to its title, each separate piece is modelled on cuts of meat or segments of animal. Hand-made fragments of white porcelain are combined with those sourced from a moulding process, the real and the imaginary combining in a synthesis that obscures origin and evades simple formalism.