Penny Byrne transforms vintage porcelain figures and other found objects into work that makes a humorous or political statement. Though the themes of her work are dark and heavy, the lightness and treatment of the porcelain contrasts this, formulating a new perception of these themes. As a respected ceramic conservator and restorer, she claims that what she is doing with these “sacrosanct” found figures is quite inappropriate with respect to her field of work. Byrne lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.
Of her work, Kristalova states, “My ideas are about how it is to live a life; love and fear and what’s in between. I think and draw, looking back on past works, then gather the images together, gauging my own reaction to them, and start to build. I do everything in my studio in my yard, in my kilns. I mainly work alone because even painting a tree trunk has to be done my way, to be the right ugly.”
To view more photos of Kristalova’s work, check out Russ Crest’s 2011 post and/or click below to continue.
Ceramicist Matt Wedel continues to make strong headway in the gallery world while maintaining an impressive creative autonomy in Athens, Ohio, where he builds, glazes, and fires each larger than life sculpture on his own terms . . . by himself . . . without assistants.
“Sheep’s Head,” his most recent exhibit at LA Louver, proves to be a wonderful example of what a little focus, patience, and isolation can create. Each cumbersome piece collects to convey a vibrantly glossy world: renderings of a twisted contemporary animal kingdom and its surrounding vegetation.
Of this particular series, David Pagel notes, “Cookie jars come to mind, as do centerpieces for fancy dinners, elaborate candle holders, ships’ figureheads and decorative figurines. So do works by Picasso, Botero and Baselitz, as well as ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan statuary, Cylcadic sculpture, Olmec totems and carved saints from medieval churches.”
From everyday objects to art history and human artifacts, Wedel’s healthy dose of contemporary dreaming bends the familiar into something imaginatively powerful. On view, we encounter angelic mutants who have been hardened over time, perhaps altered by a sorcerer’s wand or depicted to honor one final futuristic freeze. Likewise, while roaming the floor, we meet flora and fauna which structurally blooms in a childlike manner, but not without a bitter taste of science gone awry with color dripping and drooping.
Piece after piece, a creative storybook of bright possibility or dark youthful mystery unravels, and this is exactly why we strive to look deeper- it’s a hoping to engage not only with the work, but with our own innermost children.
Check out the video after the jump to see the artist at work and meet his 3-year-old inspiration.
Kim Tucker’s ceramic sculptures are burly messes of gender– exorcising primal desires, akin to a Bukowski or Fante novel, with a dash of Freud, but crafted with more of a surrealistic feminine charge. Each nude, for example, sexually and emotionally gestures at our gentle need for communion from one body to the next, illustrating psychologically how we bleed failure, rejection, isolation or loss.
KCRW’s Laura Schumate laments on each figure’s soft absorption: “There’s a desire to protect them like your own children or a friend, while acknowledging their familiar sorrow within yourself.”
On that note, the entire menagerie evokes not only Tucker’s inner children, but also our own, as they engage in “psychological storytelling”– narrating open wounds we are inclined to protect, lick, mother, or share: a deep commiseration over the tragedy of bodily confinement.
The characters in Tip Toland’s hyper realistic sculptures are fragile creatures that find themselves at the end of adulthood or at the beginning of childhood. Those stages in life have a certain vulnerability, isolation and innocence in common. Toland attempts to demonstrate the decline preceding death, and the increased separation from others it brings. Their expressions are unengaged and convey a sense of deep psychological detachment that is sad and enigmatic as well as dignified by the process of natural aging. In his article for, Ceramics: Art and Perception, Glen Brown states, “[The works] weigh upon [the viewer] for the simple reason that they reflect the profound, inevitable solitude that envelops the beginning and the end of life.”
While exploring age and aging, Toland’s work attempts to give voice to inner psychological and spiritual states of being. What is of primary importance to her is that the figures contain particular aspects of humanity, which they mirror back to the viewer. It’s the fragility and transient aspect of mankind that the artist is after. That is one reason for choosing very old or very young subjects; they both portray innocence as well as complexity. While her subjects are sometimes self-portraits, they are meant to convey universal truths about humanity, society and the self.
The hyper realism of Toland’s figures comes from her attention to detail and unique use of materials. Using an encaustic technique, Toland creates a waxy finish for the skin that mimics real flesh. She even goes so far as to incorporate actual human hair into the works. The porcelain eyes create a doll-like realism that is both haunting and entrancing, while carefully defined wrinkles, skin tone, tooth enamel, and bone structure, are remarkably realistic.
Philadelphia-based Armando Veve‘s impressive body of work shows his ability, and eagerness, to explore several different drawing methods, from the naive to the refined. In doing so, he leaves no doubt to the viewer that he makes a choice, and executes that choice with clear intent. He doesn’t seem to have many limitations. He also dabbles in ceramics, curation, and digital abstractions. At this pace, his work will only get better and better, and endless gifts will be bestowed upon us just for looking.
The work of Laurent Craste lies at the crossroads of two mediums. It participates in the world of visual arts, but never crosses its borders. This is explore in his use of ceramics. The form, linked by tradition to crafts, requires a technical knowledge and know-how so restrictive that artists are prompted to remain within canonical forms, never pushing their limits. In this series of ceramic sculptures, Craste has used porcelain vases, representative of certain upper class tastes, and laid into them with a variety of blunt objects, essentially critiquing the fusty conservatism of both this group and the medium itself. Read More