Gabriele Hain has been working with porcelain for over 25 years. Yet she confesses to being overwhelmed on an almost daily basis with the discovery of new possibilities this clay offers. In her hands, porcelain conveys with enormous subtlety a light and rhythm that goes beyond any other clay. She excels at exploiting its semi-translucency. Hain creates layers so fine they appear as windows of light within her forms. She employs its strength to create cylinders supported by only the thinnest outlines of a shape. Her technique — a process of cutting or gradually carving out fine layers — requires tremendous patience. It is repetitive and meticulous. It demands exquisite judgment of how hard to push and how far to go. No other material can create such marvelously peaceful and tranquil forms.
Her work in this exhibition focuses on materiality and illusion. The artist has created apparently thin-walled vessels that give the impression that they must even be viewed with the greatest of care. They initially seem so delicate they threaten to shatter with the slightest breeze. Therein lays their illusion. They are in fact quite strong. The work of this Austrian artist is widely appreciated around the world and she is a European artist consistently invited to Japan, a country renowned for its appreciation of true porcelain artistry.
When Dane Kim Holm started working with the cylinder, he had no idea how completely this simple form would capture his imagination. Its seemingly superficial nature has proved to be anything but. Holm has been utterly seduced by its simplicity and possibilities for variation. Variation in size (small ones and large ones, and on some occasions even huge ones), variation in height as well as in width, surface texture, and of course the creative process unique to ceramic art — the final fusion of glaze and clay in a life or death trial by fire.
These cylinders are wheel-thrown. There is an obvious preoccupation with the correlation between the inside and the outside of the form. There is always coherence between form, texture and color in such a way that the outside and the inside of the form accentuate each other in a virtuoso display of harmony and sometimes even intentional dissonance. Cylinders must be clear examples of what can be done with clay and glaze if they are to have sufficient character and personality to challenge the viewer. Many of these pieces have gone through several layers of glazing and numerous firings before they matured and obtained the texture and depth the artist was seeking. They also express the joy of experimentation as the artist explores the potentials of clay and especially glaze. Holm mixes his own glazes. Fused in the kiln, clay and glaze have become a complete whole, a testament to intuition, sensitivity and a great sense of color.
It is a long journey from Bangkok to Göteborg. From a Bachelors Degree in Industrial Design from Chulalongkorn University to a Masters Degree in Craft Art from Högskolan för Design och Konsthantverk (the School of Design and Crafts). However, it is a pilgrimage that has yielded a deeply philosophical body of art.
For Aor Sutthiprapha, working with clay has always been far more than merely the making. “Mine is a repetitive working process. With clay, my mind is usually so intensely focused that I lose myself in meditation. For me, repetition is the key to concentration, which in turn leads to cognizance. I have learned that clay rarely remains static and that its characteristics vary significantly at every stage. Clay teaches me to accept and live with this state of flux, while trying neither to control nor to constrain it. To deal with clay, all I need do is simply truly understand and unconditionally accept it. Working through the various stages of clay is a metaphor for changes in life. Clay and humans are very similar. Both are ever changing, uncontrollable and requiring constant attention. Clay comes from the ground and becomes ceramic yet will ultimately return to the ground. Is this not similar to stages in our lives? Ours is a universe of impermanence. We will never be able to keep what we strive for permanent. What exists will ultimately decay. Time-consuming and repetitive motion is the purpose.”
“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.” Thich Nhat Hanh
The work of Dutch ceramist Henk Wolvers is world renowned for its movement and transparency in combination with subtle shapes and powerful and charming color-combinations. He works exclusively in porcelain, a material that places a particularly high demand upon artisanship and discipline. Wolvers is a widely acknowledged master of the material. The skin of his pieces can be mat or shiny, sometimes even on the same work. Combining a different finish on both the inside and the outside creates a duality that can generate an unprecedented intensity and dynamic. During his creation process, Wolvers never forces the material, but leaves it up to the clay to find its own way. The result is a unique combination of spontaneity and deep consideration. The firing process, which is the final phase of his process, is severely controlled in order to get the desired result: Wolvers porcelain. While the cylinders created for this exhibition are related to the well-known shapes of the vase and the bowl, they have been continuously reinvented and reshaped in order to generate these unique and almost mystical works of art.
Wolvers is a recipient of the Japanese Inax Design Prize, awarded on a yearly basis to the best ceramics designer worldwide based on creativity and uniqueness. It is regarded as one of the most prestigious awards in ceramic art.