Honk Kong-based artist Johnson Tsang creates alternative ceramic creations that spook viewers. Employing a realist yet surreal sculptural technique, Tsang looks to produce exaggerated, almost cartoonish, bizarre human forms that look very convincing (and very disturbing). Besides his famous creepy, chubby, porcelain babies–whom he calls his own ‘children’–Tsang is known for his ability to morph both functional objects and the human body to put forth an alternative line of work that challenges the craft oriented world of ceramics. Much like Beccy Ridsdel Dissected Ceramics, Tsang has the ability to make ceramic pieces that in a way remain functional, but still work as a conceptual piece of art.
Chris Ritson combines ceramics with elemental transformation to create these stunning bismuth sculptures. The smoothness and seeming purity of the ceramic form contrasts with the spontaneous explosiveness of the bismuth that emerges from the heads of his subjects, demonstrating a gorgeous dynamism of form and content.
From his artist statement: “Bismuth is an archival element, that under specific, synthetic conditions crystalizes into a distinct hopper shaped crystal form. This crystalline structure of multicolored lattice of cubes within cubes is utilized to simulate the Tesseract, a 4th Dimensional cube. Imagine the Tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square. In our thoughts, as well as dreams, we construct a reality within countless imperceivable dimensions, and the realm of the Tesseract is the first that evades our five senses. As artwork is meant to herald a great movement in the viewer into unknown lands of experience, these works are manifestations of the great mythic beacons of ineffable transmissions: Immortal Gods plucked form our literary tradition, all linked to the bridge that connects humans to the imperceivable truths beyond the body.” (via my amp goes to 11)
Jessica Stoller‘s porcelain sculptures exaggerate the objectification of female bodies using 18th century French aesthetics. Through the medium of clay, Stoller sculpts fluid and grotesque shapes, emphasizing the lack of boundaries between bodies and other materialist images related to consumption. She embellishes this unsettling bodily abundance with a soft, feminine, candy and ice-cream color palette and opulent adornments. These figures are often erotically or mythically charged.This creates an experience of surreal bodily and material abjection for the viewer, while addressing cultural concerns about the control of the feminine body. Stoller’s work, “Spoil,” is currently on view at PPOW Gallery in New York until February 8. (via hi fructose)
Brett Kern sculpts these incredible “inflatable” dinosaurs and other objects out of plaster. Kern sculpts his own molds out of clay and uses glaze to emphasize his materials’ depth and details. Pop culture has always influenced Kern’s work, and these faux inflatable sculptures are no exception. One of Kern’s first memories as a child was being given an inflatable dinosaur at the hospital for behaving while his mother gave birth to his sister. It’s this playful, childlike wonder that informs the bulk of his work, and the forging of a balance of fragility and buoyancy. .
“I find that the mold-making process imitates, in a certain way, the fossilization process. Objects are covered in a material that captures their shape and texture and this, in turn, preserves the object as a rock-like representation. Movies, television, toys and games dominated the cultural landscape of my youth. I am a product of this specific time period, and I like to think of my artwork as the fossils that will help preserve it.”
Mary O’Malley’s Bottom Feeders is a series of oceanic ceramics that look as if they were discovered among sea wreckage. These “porcelain crustaceans” appear delicate and dangerous, as the aquatic life that crawls among the porcelain seems as if could consume and become the dish itself. Inspired by her home by the sea, O’Malley created this series with porcelain, red Iron oxide, 22 karat gold luster, and a cone 6 glaze that shes makes herself using a recipe called Alfred White. She enjoys creating work that juxtaposes seemingly disparate imagery or ideas, such as the series of urns she created that she intended to be humorous. Of this series, she says,
“What interested me with this series, is by applying the creatures to plates and bowls I was reminded of naturally occurring circumstances where nature takes over man made scenarios. Humans are constantly vying for power against the natural world but we can never quite seem to win. Once I started to create these pieces I then started to notice the same pattern going on in the world around me: moss growing on a concrete wall, barnacles growing on the side of a dock, tufts of grass poking up through cracks in the sidewalk, etc. Maybe I am interested in this series because it is a truer representation of the world we exist in.” (via)
Be sure to check out O’Malley’s Etsy shop, where you can purchase some of her work. She currently lives in New York.
Filmmaker Dave Altizer’s short mini-documentary Porcelainia features Bobby Jaber, an educator, scientist, and artist. After Jaber retired from teaching chemistry, he was able to focus his energies on porcelain work, specifically geometric designs based on molecular shapes. Jaber’s approach to his work is inspired by his scientist/artist predecessors, most notably Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome. Though he’s had a little financial success with some of his work, Jaber is clearly motivated by love and dedication to his craft. Be sure to stick around after the credits to catch Jaber’s priceless reaction to current technology.
For Translated Vase, Korean artist Yeesookyung assembles broken and discarded pieces of ceramics into new and contemporary work. According to Yeesookyung, about 70% of ceramic work does not reach the perfectionist standards of many ceramic professionals and masters. From this ceramic trash, she puts these broken pieces together as if she’s assembling a jigsaw puzzle, finding pieces that seem to connect from disparate shards, then covering the seams with 24 carat gold leaf. “While the use of gold lacquer is seemingly related to Japanese traditions of mending ceramics known as kintsugi 金継ぎ for Yeesookyung her choice of gold is based on the Korean homophone of “gold” (geum) and “crack” (geum). She observes, ‘I wanted to add a sense of humor to my work by filling geums (cracks), which are considered as defects, with a valuable material, such as real geum (gold).'” (via)
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.