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.
Seattle based Charles Krafft has spent decades creating gorgeous porcelain sculptures referencing everything from war to pop culture. In this short documentary hear Charles describe his inspirations, process, and his use of human bone china to memorialize friends.
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.
Things fall apart, they break. Fracture, both material and metaphorical is a part of our lives. In the work of Tim Berg and Rebekah Myers, fracture acts as a unifying principle, unifying themes as diverse as luck, consumption and value. Sometimes something must be broken or fractured in order for us to see its value. This may be especially true for our environment. Only when we see the consequences of our actions do we begin to understand our complicity in fracturing it. So animals like polar bears must persist against the tide, fractured from their environment destined to become just another souvenir of a bygone era.
Sometimes we fracture things in search of something intangible, like breaking a wishbone for luck. These actions present us with an opportunity to conjure up some sense of control over the uncontrollable. We like to think we can control our fortunes through the coercion of objects or rituals hoping luck will favor us and blaming it when circumstances go awry.
According to Kate MacDowell, her varied travels from Italy to rural India have greatly influenced her unique artistic vocabulary. She began studying ceramics full-time in 2004. Since then, she has created pieces that ascertain their prestige through the perfect juxtaposition of the beautiful and the alarming. MacDowell’s work is so precise that it feels as if it exists more comfortably in reality than in imagination. If you’re in the UK, you can see her work in the upcoming group show, Shadowside, at bo.lee Gallery in Bath.
Christiane Haase creates such strangely sexual/magical ceramic amulets. There were so many wonderful creature creations I had to post a million pictures after the jump…you really have to see her work in context with the other pieces to appreciate the full effect.