Beyond the Vessel
Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe
13 September – 22 December 2019
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 utilitarian 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 compelling, within contemporary arts.
Beyond the Vessel: Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe demonstrates how ancient myths have echoed down generations and now form an exciting new wave of contemporary art inspired by the human characteristics and archetypes they represent.It focuses on how clay, often used simply to manufacture vessels and other utilitarian objects, holds the potential of being one of the most refined and yet powerful materials in the hands of artists with exceptional skill and vision, expressing human emotion in the greatest degree of subtlety.
The works in this exhibition spring from a universe of nightmares and dreams, with exquisite beauty matched by horror. They can be classified in two principal types; those inspired by the forests and dark tales of the North and those by Classical tales from ancient Greece and Turkey.Stories about the Cyclops, Medusa, Gaia, and Zeus continue to resonate in the works presented in Beyond the Vessel.
Investigation of war, gender, morality, belief systems, death, class, love, and race, are all here, most often folded into the highly personalised visions of the artists’ worlds. It is an exhibition full of story-tellers, and it is very apparent that their complex, polychrome works represent a larger, vibrant and growing international scene, much of it committed to delivering commentary on the twenty-first century.
Klara Kristalova, Sam Bakewell, Bertozzi & Casoni, Vivian van Blerk, Christie Brown, Phoebe Cummings, Bouke de Vries, Malene Hartmann Rasmussen, Elsa Sahal, Kim Simonsson, Carolein Smit, Jørgen Haugen Sørensen, Hugo Wilson
Curated by Catherine Milner