Guanghai sets out to explore a new future-facing practice, melding classical training in Chinese ceramics with an urge to reflect his contemporary surrounds, and an increased insertion of Western styles and techniques. ‘Confrontations’ finds iconography in an abstracted slice of sculpture, the celadon-glazed classical bust of the buddha sliced vertically at the shoulders, then mirrored and joined with rough pipe-like ceramic appendages; a combination of the religious and profanely industrial. The sense is heightened with the exposure of the “guts” of the bodies — both interiors fitted with scaffold, each carefully brushed and coated with a metallic enamel to reinterpret the relative values of object and depiction.
Gallaspy’s ceramics explore the primordial, oozing state of clay — formalising improvised compositions that shift between sculptural object and collapsing experiment, and which reveal a narrative through unexpected relationships and exchange. “Consume the Moon” finds eerie spatial resonance in seemingly disparate elements, the title clearly adding lunar significance to the large orb — and the overall structure taking on a semi-figurative or organic sense of restlessness.
A remarkable feat of trompe l’oeil casting, ‘Corner Street Cone No. 1’ reflects Hurley’s intrigue for signifiers of human influence in nature, and vice versa, and conveys his skill at sourcing and deftly multiplying objects in slipcast stoneware. The cone holds a role as controller and determiner of spatial interaction, instigating a symbolic psychological reinterpretation of our environment and its boundaries, but the byproducts of transience and portability find themselves questioned in this newly disguised concrete form.
The kitsch, frog-obsessed funk ceramics of Gilhooly grew from attempts to out-grotesque contemporaries — but gradually came to embody the levelling of art through absurdist parodies of 'high-brow’ civilisation and culture. The semi-abstract “Cosmic Egg” takes the literal form of a long oblong egg, but also seems to be manipulating a heavily compressed figurative representation. The marble-like glaze infers classical sculpture, and manifold rounded lumps suggest limbs tied in knots and squashed, fetus-like, into shape upon its pedestal. Two horizontal stripes of darker glaze add to the surrealness with painterly effect.
Intriguing use of object sensitivity and interplay of interior and exterior surface from Wetherall, whose ceramic objects direct a sense of shape ‘cut’ into to reveal a cross-sectional diagram brought into sculptural relief. The object is formed and cast based on an emotional relationship to anatomical organs — this piece indicative of the top quarter of a pair of lungs and a metaphorical urge for air and space to survive — then carefully illustrated with a series of underglazes that renders layered visual information in the style and obsessive detail of 18th century medical etchings.
MacDowell’s exploration of human-to-nature relationships often tucks darker details within her elegant craft, and here in ‘Cuckoo’ an exposed human foetus is ensconced and easy to miss amongst small baby birds. The delicacy of the piece conveys the fragility of fate and shared existence, and the poses, shroud-like white clay and nakedness can’t help but unmask questions of life and death.
Part of the The Isichapuitu Series. Peruvian Kukuli Velarde makes work indebted to folk tradition and traditional ornamentation, exploring the new politics of identity, estrangements of context and acts of “forgetfulness” that occur as art is displaced from its origin. ‘Culebreando’ is cut from a series of works exploring memory, fear, desire and ideology through figurative icons that, in tandem, present a larger picture of the artists identity and belief in a shared system of traits. Choosing a simple white glaze, Velarde adds graffitied text and image across the figurative body that slide between allusions to harm or violence and emotional upheaval — words such as ‘miedo de caer pero’ (fear of falling’) or ‘corazón no suede’ (‘heart can not’) tattood across the chest, and the repeated symbol of the serpent is knowingly deployed in reference to feminine temptation and the suffering inflicted by that notion.
Large glazed ceramic Dango, USA, 1989; Signed and dated; 36" x 20" x 13"
In Japanese, the word “dango” describes a type of dumpling. Kaneko applies this word to his rounded, hand-built, glazed ceramic work. With its voluminous top that softly tapers toward the base, this dango is suggestive of a vase. Unlike a vase, however, it is closed on top. Kaneko treats his ceramic creations as canvasses on which to paint. Here, the dango’s gentle contours and cream-colored glaze contrast with an angular, dark blue-colored mark at the center of the piece. The painterly mark softens as it approaches the base of the sculpture and is evocative of a gapping mouth on an otherwise featureless head. Kaneko works with a team of people to create these works, and he makes use of a massive kiln for firing.
The romantic assurance of nature as a divine and cosmic binary to humanism often falls far short of contemporary reality, and MacDowell works to illuminate this divide between truth and beauty in her ceramics. ‘David & Goliath’ is, like all of MacDowell’s work, carefully hand-built — the cross-sectional representation of hand and animal-head remarkable for the detail conveyed in simple, bloodless white clay. A stance suggests victory, the death and decapitation of the animal an act of trophying that is mirrored and reframed again in the overall form, and the arm that represents humanity becomes as anonymous and violently detached as the act of the killing itself.
Carefully sculptured to render some ghastly reveal, in ‘Death Visceration’ the shroud of classicism is seemingly rend in two to reveal its humanity in death; a depredation of the eternal youth and celestial beauty in the image. Tamote’s simple use of white ceramic speaks equally of renaissance sculpture or bone, and the drama and violence of the piece remains offset by a coolness — the stresses and flayed skin merging with thick paste-like layers of textured clay, deployed as a plinth, that allow the form a smoke-like, illusory sensibility.