Ceramics has always been a vehicle for conveying shared human stories. The earliest specimens reveal how as object and material it has borne a multitude of meanings from the utterly functional to the highly symbolic. The recent revival of the use of clay as a means of creating abstract sculpture, wherein the narrative element is made subordinate to the expression of raw emotion reveals how this material and genre has once again become one of the most captivating within contemporary arts.
Beyond the Vessel: Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe demonstrates how ancient myths from various cultures have echoed down generations and inspired an exciting new wave of contemporary art. The exhibition showcases clay, a material often used simply to manufacture vessels and other utilitarian objects, manifesting its prolific and versatile rhetoric in the hands of artists with exceptional skill and vision, expressing human emotion in the greatest degree of subtlety. While some artists in the exhibition do not fire their clay, others use found shards of ceramic to develop their work. The different techniques implemented within the artworks result in a myriad of genres, ranging from hyperrealism to abstraction.
The works in this exhibition spring from a universe of nightmares and dreams, the monstrous and the beautiful; the past and the present, captured in the same instant. The territories inhabited range from the lush and dark forests of the North, to skies brushed by “the rosy-fingered dawn” in Homer’s words. Beyond the Vessel is full of story-tellers; the narratives varying between the fairy-tales of the Brothers Grimm and H. C. Andersen to the stories about Zeus the cloud-gatherer and the serpent-haired Medusa. The exhibition is an investigation of human affairs, past and present, moulded by that primordial human material, clay. There is no doubt that the complex, polychrome works represented here point to a larger, vibrant, and growing international scene, much of it committed to delivering a poetics and commentary on the twenty-first century.
Catherine Milner and Károly Aliotti
Sam Bakewell, Bertozzi & Casoni, Vivian van Blerk, Christie Brown, Phoebe Cummings, Bouke de Vries, Malene Hartmann Rasmussen, Klara Kristalova, Elsa Sahal, Kim Simonsson, Carolein Smit, Jørgen Haugen Sørensen, Hugo Wilson
In collaboration with
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