Painting the Fantastic
Pairings are sometimes fortunate–a lucky draw at the poker table, the unexpected blind date that clicks. Yet, the success of tennis partners at a doubles match is the result of very timely and thoughtful matchmaking. So, when curators pair up artists for exhibits, we hope there has been some thought, too. I work at this, and it’s hardly random. So, here are my thoughts about the simultaneous shows of Kurt Weiser and Cindy Kolodziejski. It’s our next show.
Both artists use contemporary ceramic forms as a support for figurative painting. Both artists are taking something we know (a globe in the case of Weiser, a bedpan in the case of Kolodziejski), and altering it to fit their purpose. While Cindy Kolodziejski continues to explore the fertile territory of human sensuality, Kurt Weiser pushes into a surreal and fantastic world on his odd-shaped globes.
Cindy Kolodziejski continues to make vessels by recombining and manipulating antique forms. She once took commonplace vessels and altered them, from coffee pots, to laboratory glassware, to antique urinals. Now she’s taken that another step, and altered the bedpan, leaving a flat space in the back so that we see couples engaged in sex.
Cindy’s last works were clearly referential to Marcel Duchamp, who famously turned a urinal upside down and submitted it with the name of R. Mutt in Fountain, 1917. Cindy just starts there and then adds layers of imagery and metaphor. In addition to the provocative use of a container for bodily fluids, the artist entices the viewer by adding the tentacles of an octopus. The interiors and exteriors of the vessels are painted glimpses of couples engaged in sexual activity. Juxtaposing octopus with coitus, Kolodziejski sets up an unusual tension. There are mixed references to the sea throughout–including octopus tentacles and bubbles. Delving into the sexual psyche, the works have a mysterious brew of exquisitely rendered images.
Kurt Weiser has expanded his worldview onto globes. Bronze stands hold the oddly curved, almost pear-shaped orbs. He builds all of the elements for the works, and casts the porcelain as well as the bronze. The bending and flowing imagery has been described by Edward Lebow: “Weiser’s dog-eat-dog world is awash in odd sexual and scientific tensions between wanting and having, desire and controlling, seeing and seizing.” Weiser’s own statement is modest:
“The ideas and subjects of these paintings on the pots are for the most part just a collection of my own history of fantasy and view of reality. They are built the same way we dream: Around a central idea, a cast of characters and environments just seem to show up to complete the picture.”
From my viewpoint, both of these artists are figurative, both are dealing with the fantastic, and both are making connections by intuitive associations. It’s worth noting that both artists are also painting on ceramic surfaces that are curved and both are challenging themselves with the technical demands of the medium of ceramics. The show opens in three weeks, and I’m hoping to see some other sparks fly from this auspicious beginning.