Puls gallery took part in the third edition of “Collectible”, a fair dedicated exclusively to contemporary collectible design in Brussels earlier this year. Given the incredible success and the enthusiasm elicit in the general public, we have decided to extend the exposition in a new concept, called “Echo of Collectible”, at Puls Gallery.
We present an overview of international artists who are approaching ceramics from diametrically opposed points of view. Nevertheless, those artists constantly experiment with materials and expand the boundaries of what is already known with discipline and dedication.
On show the Japanese-American artist Kiyoshi Kaneshiro who, with an iconoclastic perspective but never disregarding the rules of classical craftsmanship, overturns the concept of glaze and clay, showing a work that is interesting for its capacity of immediate dialectic interaction with the viewer and the surrounding space. About his practice the artist says: “ Despite how the work may look I’m very disciplined in the process to achieve the aesthetic that the work results in. I think a lot about gravity as well. I don't like to fight the medium, I try to make observations on its behavior and make decisions based on that. I try my best not to be obvious and do the stranger things that will result in something different”.
Jongjin Park is a South Korean artist who investigates the remarkable ability of ceramics to deceive the eye. By experimenting with layering paper and porcelain slip, he has created giant millefeuilles which are at once delicate, strong and have an almost wood-like quality. In using kitchen paper and porcelain slip, Park is able to manipulate your senses and makes you wonder what is real. Park already had a strong foundational knowledge of ceramic properties and techniques, when he decided to integrate the use of paper into his ceramic work. He was looking for ways to make ceramic imitate other materials. The sculptural forms he creates are full of vulnerability and duplicity, and hover between the spontaneous and the deliberate. The colors he uses add another dimension of surprise to the texture: soft pastels, shady greys and whites and cobalt blues make for a delicious feast as if these pieces are edible after all.
Featured in the exhibition are the glass pieces by the Danish artist Morten Klitgaard. His work explores notions of place and reflects on the influential effects of nature on both the landscape and its inhabitants. His pieces appear weatherbeaten, patinated by the rugged Danish coastal landscape the artist grew up in. Oxides, metal pigments and ash are applied during the final heating process, causing the surface of the glass to effervesce and create intricate textures and patterns. The work obscures our perception of material whilst successfully honoring the traditions of glass blowing; it pushes the boundaries of contemporary craft and design. His sculptural forms are reminiscent of the Physarum polycephalum, an acellular slime mold protist with an incredible intellectual capacity to explore and solve mazes in the same way as Klitgaard solves the glassmaking challenges.
Ahryun Lee's works are located exactly in the space between past and future, between contemporaneity and tradition, West and East, classic and modern, art and design. Born in South Korea and educated at the Royal College of Art in London, Ahryun has an extremely technical approach to materials in parallel with an expressive freedom that attracts the viewer for its visual intensity. The tactile sensation is the perception of understanding the things around us without seeing them, and it creates a visceral reaction. The surface of these objects is reminiscent of the liquid inside and creates imagination for the user to think about what is inside. These extraordinary items are fun but also it brings curiosity about the object, running on the subtle line between function and non- function. They are situated beyond functionality and they explain the potential on how the ordinary object can be evolved.
On display are the wall sculptures by Wouter Dam, a Dutch artist who maintains the classic sculptural approach of the potter while separating and reassembling the traditional elements. His new pieces are aerial shapes made of bright colors which allows the viewer to look ‘through’ rather than ‘at’ the work. He says: “I don’t try to do conceptual art. I want people to create their own ideas when they look at my work. That is why I do not give them titles. For me the main thing is that people are pleased when they truly look.” Dam's work is represented in the leading museums and private collections in Europe, Japan, and the United States.
Mastery of stoneware clay, familiarity with the laws of glazing and knowledge of the independent power of fire are a distinguishing feature of Thomas Bohle’s work. As a representative of a strict world of vessels, he succeeds in distilling something distinctly his own from the impulses he receives. He does not work erratically; he has a systematic approach and an eye for individual shapes and forms. Driven by the desire to intensify what he has already achieved, each new piece is an extension of its predecessor. Parallel to this, the technical perfection he displays is not merely something static that can be taken for granted, but much more an extension of formal possibilities. Always conscious of the fact that only a certain willingness to take risks can give the object the kind of intensity that fascinates and impresses, Thomas Bohle also has to accept failure.
When you look at Antonino Spoto's new wall artworks you immediately get the sensation of an Anish Kapoor experience. Soaked in by the void, you get lost in the shades of the blue parables that occasionally converse with a complementary orange in an impeccable balance.
These objects are like metaphorical caves: one is compelled to enter yet fearful of what might be found. This other place we can’t see but we know is there stands as a metaphor for many life philosophies: What is empty is also full. Positive space and negative space. Presence and absence. Or in the words of Spoto: “Each gap opens to another world, to infinity, to the mystery.”
Merete Rasmussen, Danish by origin, works with pure shapes and colours deriving from repeated natural forms or complex mathematical constructions.Her work explores the arena of pure form and color. She has accepted the challenge of defining and comprehending the four dimensions of time and space through physical form. Her shapes embody the idea of a captured movement. All of her forms have energy, enthusiasm, and a sense of purpose. And each of these aspects is emphasized by a monochrome matt surface. The choice of strong but subtle colors adds further importance, strength, and energy. Her work is hand built using a coiling technique in stoneware clay.
As a graphic artist and painter, Marina Le Gall is equally at ease drawing with a lead pencil, working with watercolours or poster paint. Her colours are often built up to create textures, and treated like a physical material. Her familiarity with the world of nature comes from having grown up in the countryside and still regularly returning there. We can admire her keen observations of puffin groups on islands north of Brittany, of foxes, wolves and rabbits. The animals she portrays are often combined with a love of landscapes and shown against a backdrop of blurry country scenes as though seen from a train window. In many ways, her approach is similar to that of a naturalist painter apart from a distinctive taste for concentric circles. Take for example her installation of twenty-eight rabbits set like onion rings on a shelf or her ring of dodos with their backs turned. Another difference is her anthropomorphic treatment of animals which, when taken together with the title of a piece, suddenly produces an added twist, underlining contradiction, absurdity, lack of sense, an attack on consumer society, denunciation of mankind’s excessive domination of nature and inexorable annihilation of wilderness and wildlife. In fact, Marina Le Gall’s work is more akin to the telling of fables or political cartooning. However, she has no need for the grotesque in her art. Her hard truths are there to be read between the lines.
Christina Schou Christensen born in Bornholm, the Danish island of clay and granite is an artist and design teacher. Glaze and not clay seems to play the most important role. Her daring and experimental use of glazing, that is allowed to flow freely through these forms, brings a novel, surprising and subversive character to the work. Christensen investigates a field that is hard to control, and where the outcome is difficult if not impossible to predict. While she sets certain parameters for the unfolding of the materials, the temperature of the kiln, the size of holes, the firing tools and the melting point of the glaze, she can’t foresee the final result. Christensen: ”I am exploring how I can give form to ceramic objects by using large amounts of glaze with a high viscosity. I load the clay container with glaze and turn off the kiln when the glaze is slowly melting – and thus making the melting process stop”.
Jin Eui Kim’s work explores how the perception of three-dimensional ceramic forms can be manipulated by the application of tonal bands (18 different tones from light as white to dark as black) on their surfaces. Illusory spatial phenomena can appear and thus significantly influence the actual three-dimensional forms through the arrangement of the bands by using gradient in tone, width and interval between bands. The duration of the viewer’s attention, physical position and tone or colour of the background are also crucial influencing factors for the appearance of illusions. He works in-between the concepts of illusion and reality and his work attracts viewers by visual phenomena as well as physical confusions appearing on the surface of the ceramic. Restricting or removing data (information) on the surface increases the chance of the viewer’s perception shifting between illusion and reality.
German-born Elke Sada completed her Master of Arts Degree in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art in London. Sada has provided herself with a surprising — if unusual — array of tools and experience that she brings to each of her pieces. The variety of techniques she employs clearly demonstrates a superior grasp of the possible as well as a fascination with the abstract. She combines spontaneity and intuition creating powerful shapes. Although a tribute to the vessel her vital forms are truly sculptural. And she does not stop here. She takes the form into another level by applying vivid and striking colours with rigour and vitality into three-dimensional canvas. Clear-cut geometry in form has never been her favourite. Her experimental game with colour becomes an impulsive, physical reaction. Sada is there, tangible in her work.
Her many awards, prizes, and artist residencies attest to her artistic vision. The list of major museums and collections that have acquired and exhibited her works is a veritable Who’s Who of the world’s top public and private ceramic collections. It includes among many others the Musée Ariana, Geneva, The International Design Museum, Munich, and the World Ceramic Center, Icheon, South Korea.