Archive for November 2012
Now that everything is installed for our new exhibition, Frank’s International House of Ceramics, I’ve had a chance to spend some time with the new pieces and I find myself returning to the two “Sleepers” by Akio Takamori in the front gallery, and thinking about what Akio said to me about these new works, in relation to his artistic practice:
“Although the sleeper pose is one that I am familiar with, my use of bold, high contrasting colors is new. I keep thinking back to my many museum visits to see the masters like Matisse and how they used color in their paintings.”
I think Akio is absolutely correct in his assessment of the two sleepers he sent to the gallery. In 2004 I held an exhibition of his “Sleeping Figures,” and they featured a more subdued and neutral color palette. His older figures were clothed in shades of blue, black, and gray, or were nude. In contrast, the recent “Sleepers” wear brightly colored and patterned outfits, and Sleeper in Pink Dress even has blue hair!
Akio’s reference to Matisse made me want pull out my old books on the artist. What I found was a clear relationship between the works of Henri Matisse and Akio Takamori. Take a look at a work I found at left, Elena in Striped Dress, which was painted by Matisse in 1937 and is from the Mr. and Mrs. Alfred K. Stern Collection. It features an all-over pattern, contrasting tones of pink and blue, a stylized human figure, and elegant line work. At right we have The Striped Dress, 1937, of the Norton Simon collection, which has similar traits, and a different color scheme. I can see these qualities of these paintings reflected quite clearly in the pair of “Sleeping Figures” we have installed in the gallery.
One of the advantages of establishing long-term relationships with artists is the opportunity to observe the development of their work over time. I first showed pieces by Cheryl Ann Thomas in the gallery in 2006, and six years later her work has steadily grown in grace and complexity.
If you aren’t familiar with Cheryl’s work, she coils impossibly thin ropes of porcelain clay into balanced cylinders and vessels, which collapse under their own weight when exposed to the heat of the kiln. These single “relics” represent an early phase of her work, and she now combines several, firing these groups for a second or third time to create larger abstract sculptures. Cheryl has also experimented with bronze and steel, striving to remain as faithful to the properties of these new materials as she does to those of porcelain.
One of Cheryl’s most recent developments is her new exploration of soft, subtle coloration. Her previous work featured an elegant palette of white, gray, and black with the occasional blue coil running through certain pieces. In comparison, her newest creations are constructed of gentle blue, brown, gray, cream, and white. These light hues lend a soft-focus quality to her work and make their delicacy, already a defining characteristic, even more pronounced.
It has been a pleasure to observe Cheryl’s persistent stylistic development. Each stage of her evolution has been natural, with nothing forced or contrived about her transitions. Over the past six years, she has continued her investigations into the “experience of creation and loss” by seeking out subtle new avenues to explore.
Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman
Copyright © Frank Lloyd Gallery, Inc.
Author: Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
Editor: Jana Martin
Design: Joe Molloy, Mondo Typo, Inc.
Additional Design: Jim Drobka
Typography: Diane Franco
Production Manager: Amita Molloy
Printed and bound by Colornet Press, Los Angeles
Published in Santa Monica, California, United States
ISBN 10: 0-9851709-0-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-9851709-0-5
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012944950
Georges Jeanclos is one of the most universally admired ceramic artists, particularly by other artists. A few years ago, when Akio Takamori was asked by a publication to name his influences, he cited Jeanclos, and so have many others. The way that Jeanclos delicately manipulated the thin grey terra cotta, and imbued his figures with such strong emotion, has an essential and powerful presence.
I first encountered George Jeanclos’s work through his association with Adrian Saxe. Saxe was selected by Jeanclos in 1983 to be the first international resident at the Manufacture de Sèvres, when the centuries-old French home of court porcelains opened its doors to foreign artists, allowing them to use the formulas and facilities just outside Paris.
Through the gracious cooperation of the Jeanclos family, the Frank Lloyd Gallery produced two solo shows of the stunning work of Jeanclos. The first was for the Los Angeles International, in 2001. We followed up one year later with another exhibit, and both were critically acclaimed.
I am very happy to be presenting a work by Georges Jeanclos in my next show at the gallery. Dormeur, from 1992, depicts a single figure, his head and hands emerging from a pile of blankets. His serene expression and smooth skin contrast with the rough-hewn, dusty textures of his protective coverings. Jeanclos himself said that he conceived of the face as “a point of persistence…exempt of all wounds and offenses…” Shrouded in the refuge of sleep, this Dormeur is safe and at peace.
The gallery’s next show, Frank’s International House of Ceramics will include seven tea bowls and two tea containers by Japanese artist Goro Suzuki. These pieces have a special history because they were brought to us by Suzuki-san in 2010 for a tea ceremony that we held at a private home in Malibu.
Suzuki-san had suggested the special event, and he made sure that everything was properly arranged. This included flying in Tea Master Souyu and her six assistants from Japan, and providing all the ceramic wares used in the ceremony from his own body of work. These nine works are only a portion of the beautiful array of traditional and non-traditional tea bowls that everyone drank from. They have never been exhibited before at the gallery, as they were brought to us specifically for the tea ceremony.
The tea bowls and containers that we’ll be exhibiting demonstrate a range of styles including Yobitsugi, Kiseto, Kuro, Shino, and Oribe. There are also examples of styles invented by Suzuki-san himself! Frank’s International House of Ceramics opens November 17th, with a reception at 5:00 pm.
Gustavo Pérez, born in Mexico City in 1950, has been honored with a third retrospective of his work in his native country. Entitled Gustavo Pérez: Obra reciente, it was held at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City from December 2011 through February 2012. It’s hard for me to think of someone more deserving – Gustavo has been working and exhibiting internationally since 1976, in countries as diverse as Great Britain, Germany, Japan, France, the United States, and Mexico, to name only a few.
Before turning to ceramics, Gustavo studied engineering, mathematics, and philosophy, and these disciplines have left their imprint on his work. He cites equally diverse artistic inspirations, mentioning Brancusi, Schubert, Rembrandt, Picasso, Francis Bacon, and Paul Klee in the same breath. These disparate sources haven’t resulted in chaotic or wildly eclectic work however; Gustavo instead works through his ideas systematically, producing a body of work that has remained recognizably his own.
Incessantly experimental, his work has advanced in stages. Primarily working in the same sand-colored stoneware, Gustavo has applied parallel lines, calligraphic traces, and geometric incisions to his minimalist vessel forms. His most recent output unifies the structure of his vessels with his drawings on them in a sinuous and flowing manner.
Gustavo’s work will be on display in our upcoming group exhibition, Frank’s International House of Ceramics, which opens Saturday, November 17th at 5:00 pm. Works by Wouter Dam, Georges Jeanclos, Adrian Saxe, Goro Suzuki, Akio Takamori, and Cheryl Ann Thomas will be shown alongside Gustavo’s.
Another of our international artists, the Dutch Wouter Dam, will also be included in “Frank’s International House of Ceramics.” Born in Utrecht in 1957, Dam was encouraged to explore form and beauty from a young age. His early interests in the properties of form and volume would go on to dominate his artistic practice.
Dam reveals that in his work, he strives to impart “just a vague memory of the real thing, just a hint. There should be enough room for the viewer to let his own imagination run free.” I am particularly struck by the nautical associations of his work, how they evoke the shadows of great seafaring ships and the cresting movements of the waves themselves. These connotations feel particularly apt when one remembers that the Netherlands rose to international prominence during the Age of Exploration, and traded extensively all over the world. Holland was a nation of ship-building, fishing, and trading for hundreds of years, and these oceanic roots seem to have left their mark in Dam’s work.
Wouter Dam’s finely-wrought ribbons of clay have themselves been the subject of international attention. His work has been shown in the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Japan and Hong Kong. It seems that his art has now traveled as widely as did the ships of his ancestors!