Penny Byrne’s first ever European solo exhibition titled “#EuropaEuropa” opened on Friday, October 6th in Berlin, Germany. Seeking to highlight the perilous journey undertaken by large numbers of migrants across Europe, “#EuropaEuropa” aims to recreate the sheer quantity and desperation of those risking their lives by crossing the Mediterranean. Adrift in an assortment of porcelain antique household serving plates, gravy boats, cups, and bowls, the figures are stranded around the gallery in various states of safety. The crudely constructed bright orange rings that hang around the necks of the figurines are clumsily constructed, a statement from Byrne on the worrying trend of refugees being given fake or faulty lifejackets. A number of solo figurines, often without floatation aids, lay separated from the main groups across the gallery floor and attached to nails in the walls; a tribute to those left behind and those who have become victims of such a perilous journey.
“#EuropaEuropa” will be on view until the 4th of November, 2017.
Israeli artist Ronit Baranga’s (previously featured here) sculptures are based on contrast and duality in meaning, unexpected and viewer experience, using the metaphor of the body to transfer unsettling yet powerfully expressive human gestures and emotions to everyday objects, which lose their functionality to become instead active, alive, capable of feeling, of interacting with each other and deciding their own path. Her education in psychology and literature resonates through her intimate and connective works on human nature, that blur the lines between living and still life.
Socially awkward and full of repressed anger, Linda Cordell anesthetizes herself spending mindless hours carving detailed texture on humorous and/or uncomfortable animal sculptures. Her work reinterprets the figurine enabling animals to break the chains of cuteness and noble savagery. An appreciation of the ridiculous, a love of beauty and skilled craftsmanship, and the belief that domestic objects are social propaganda all contribute to her work.
Cordell’s meticulously sculpted, lifelike porcelain figures depict animals juxtaposed with everyday domestic objects, raising questions about our need to control or deny nature’s ugly realities. Cordell focuses on animals’ more base tendencies: hunger, aggression and reproduction. Rooted in an aesthetic reminiscent of the grand European porcelain manufacturers reflecting a lifelike realism and classical style, her meticulously sculpted porcelain figures depict animals juxtaposed with everyday domestic objects, with afflictions or in compromised situations.
Rachel Kneebone’s intricate works address and question the human condition: renewal, transformation, life cycles and the experience of inhabiting the body. Kneebone’s sculptures operate in a near-subliminal space, oscillating and blurring the boundaries between the conscious and the subconscious, the real and the imagined, everything and nothing.
Working in porcelain, the material properties of her work further heighten and convey an awareness of opposing states, appearing to be not only heavy, solid and strong but also light, fragmentary and soft. This fluid movement between states is reflective of the wide range of art historical and literary sources that inform the artist’s practice.
Jessica Stoller uses clay and the grotesque as a vehicle to explore the constructed world of idealized femininity, gathering imagery across cultural lines and histories. The clay is sculpted, draped, carved, woven, and piped to create a wide range of bewildering effects. Porcelain is her primary medium, a historically weighted material that is intrinsically linked to notions of desire, mystery, and consumption.
UK based Hitomi Hosono is a ceramic sculptor who studied pottery in Kanazawa, Japan and Copenhagen, Denmark. Ever since then she’s studied the botanical forms of leaves and flowers she found in her garden. She allows herself to be consumed by the legion of small, intricate details present in every leaf.
Often monochromatic, the works are focused on carved detail rather than color—repetition of form making each piece uniquely beautiful. The level of detail she’s able to wrestle from her porcelain sculptures is astounding. Every fragment of her botanical-inspired forms screams with intention, whether it’s in the finely-chiseled and painstakingly-researched anatomy of the plant or the mesmerizing colors of her glazes, which make the forms look equally organic whether they’re in cream and orange or black.
Crystal Morey (previously featured here) takes inspirations from an alternative upbringing where she closely connected with the natural landscape around her. Living in rural Northern California shaped her perspective on nature and how humans interact with land, animals and each other.
Now living in an urban environment, Morey aims to show our relationship to the world around us through the fragile medium of porcelain. With this delicate material she creates a heightened sense of urgency and stress, commenting on our human evolutionary path.
American artist Jason Briggs creates bizarre ceramic sculptures. The pieces are white skin toned and covered in hair; part of his works appear to be human skin while other portions are distinctly man-made forms like upholstery. Made of porcelain, hair and steel, his handbuilt sculptures seem to resemble the human body in an abstract way with strong sexual references. Despite their grotesque forms, each piece has an endearing name such as ‘Angel’ and ‘Baby’.
“It’s up to you to label them: sculpture, fine art, fine craft, ceramic sculpture, figurative, abstract, surrealism, eroticism, non-traditional, biological, fucked-up, pornographic or, worst of all, decorative.” Jason Briggs
Though his objects contain strong visual references, he is more interested in the implied tactile ones; the things that stir in him a compulsion to touch. Beyond other external inspiration lies this basic, primal impulse. He recognizes – and acst upon – a profound desire to push, poke, squeeze, stroke, caress, and pinch. Briggs intends for his pieces to invoke a similar sort of temptation.
Influenced in her earlier works by Pop Art and more recently by contemporary photography, French plastic artist Juliette Clovis produces hybrid works that merge nature, history, and myth with the female form, covering porcelain busts in wildlife, flora, and spikes.
Her additions are either painted on or applied to mask the face, obscuring features like abnormal growths. She draws inspiration from a combination of mythological, historic and religious references as well as other ethnic codes to produce her feminine creations. These ambiguous females question the power that is split between humans and nature, toeing a line between being gentle and unnerving.
Vipoo Srivilasa works predominantly in ceramics. He uses porcelain clay to hand build his work, then he paints over it with cobalt oxide to obtain the blue color. The last step of this process consists of firing the work at 1200°C. According to the artist, his work is saturated with symbols taken from different religions, although it’s not meant to evoke religion itself, but rather to reinvent certain religious images.
Srivilasa’s work also explores the commonalities between Thai and Australian culture and Eastern and Western culture, where he uses blue and white as a reference to the export of blue and white porcelain from China to Europe. While being fully aware of his heritage, Srivilasa has been mixing up echoes from the past with traces of the present in a carefully arranged juxtaposition of old and new ways of thinking.