Baldwin / Guggisberg, Beyond Glass and 20th Century Venetian Glass - Exhibitions at Ariana Museum, Geneva
Baldwin / Guggisberg, Beyond Glass Exhibition - Ariana Museum, Geneva 13 October 2011 - 25 March 2012
The internationally-renowned master glassmakers, Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg have the techniques of glass to develop a fascinating aesthetic of forms and colors sublimated by a mastered articulation of light. The Musee Ariana is devoting a major exhibition to this artistic duo that explires their recent as well as earlier work in order to acknowledge a highly personal poetic universe combining two visions of an inner world.
20th Century Venetian Glass - a private Genevan collection 13 October 2011 - 8 April 2012
This Genevan collection brings together an ensemble of vases, bowls and dishes from the 1920s to the 1990s that illustrated the diversity and the quality of the Venetian glassmaking industry in the 20th century. The majority of the models presented were produces in their hundreds by the Murano glassblowers for companies such as Venini, Cappelin, Barovier, Martinuzzi, Seguso and Barbini. This multiplicity should not disguise the fact that all these pieces are unique.
And a gift from the Friends of the Musée Ariana: an 18th century Nymphenburg porcelain rocaille pot-pouri vase
- Musée suisse de la céramique et du verre Avenue de la Paix 10 CH-1202 Geneva, Switzerland Tel. +41(0)22 418 54 50 Fax. +41(0)22 418 54 51
Ceramics Now Magazine: Not many people know that lacquer is used to make art pieces. Can you tell us more about this material and how do you use it?
Fujita Toshiaki: The Urushi tree (Rhus Vernicifera) is a member of the sumac family of trees, found in various parts of Asia. The trees produce the sap which has been used as the coating and the adhesive material in Japan more than 9000 years. A poisonous substance when in liquid form (causing skin irritation), it becomes non-toxic on hardening and is waterproof and acid-proof. There are some examples that Native American use the sap of sumac, poison ivy or oak with the same purposes.
The season for harvesting sap is from June to October, and an Urushi tree must be between 8 to 13 years old before it is mature enough to produce only one cup of sap. The sap, an opaque light brown color, oozes from the slashes on the trunk, and it’s carefully scraped with a special tool; after this procces the sap is called Arami-Urushi. The Sap is stirred and carefully heated to equalize its components and remove excess fluid. Those Urushi is called Sugurome-Urushi or Kijiro-Urushi and used as the coating material for the upper layers.
The drying system of Urushi is very different from other painting materials. Drying Urushi means to be harden. The laccase enzyme reacts in Urusiol which is hardening constituent and initiates a chemical reaction: oxidation polymerization. To increase the activity of the chemical reaction, the ideal temperature is 77F and the moisture set to 80%. That means if the air is too dry, the lacquer never gets dry.
I focused on this characteristic drying system on Urushi and pursued to create the sculptures called layered forms. I daringly remove other elements in Urushi crafts, because they might interrupt my essential concept for my layered form series. However to understand what is lacquer or lacquer art, I should not deal with only unusual dying systems of Urushi, but also should focus on the traditional techniques, because sometimes we can find the answer in the techniques which were sophisticated and established by our forefathers. For the reason, I worked hard to acquire techniques like woodwork, dry-lacquer, colorings, coatings and decorations.
Ceramics Now Magazine: You were among the first contemporary Japanese artists to combine ceramics and glass when constructing a new work. How did you start to connect these materials?
Kawabata Kentaro: I wanted to to extract the ingredients from the glaze and embed them into the clay. For example, I tried to use fragments of smashed glass bottles, feldspar, silica stone and beachsand in my white porcelain works, and I did that by mixing these fragments with the glaze. I also wanted to observe the chemical reactions between those materials and the clear glaze after the firing. Throughout these experiences, I was fascinated about the harmony of the different kinds of translucency between glass and white porcelain. I also love touching the unfired clay with bits of glass inserted into it, and I want to get the similar feeling after the firing. I want to constantly develop my work, so I am still looking for new glazes and new kinds of glass as well as interesting materials which go well with my style of work.
Batista, 2011, Glazed clay, glass, silver, 26” x 18” x 12 1/2”. Photo by Taku Saiki - View his works
What is your present project and how do you make the pieces? Tell us more about the process.
Now I am trying to construct a few sculptures using slip casting. After making several different kinds of plaster casts, I connect them. I use my original technique in my newest works, which consists in applying small clay balls and sand on the surface.
Ceramics Now Magazine: From functional, to decorative or aesthetical, your works also vary in techniques and materials. Tell us about your woolen felt creations.
Jorie Johnson: I am drawn to the painterly and sculptural characteristics of feltmaking with its broad capabilities as a “hard textile” but which also lends itself to soft, sensual body wraps. I like the challenge of completing a work that functions in a practical way as well as becoming an object of aesthetic value. Unlike weaving, each felt piece is disconnected from the next, so in that way, a seamless, three-dimensional vessel, hat or bag may remind us more of a ceramic form than a textile.
The essential material of wool comes from sheep which grow new fleeces each year and which have served mankind in very isolated regions of the world. I love the natural color of wool, as well as, the possibility to blend it with other fibers, to dye the wool or to over dye a completed piece and manipulate its’ shape through this procedure. Now with years of practice I can approach a work from different angles, theorizing which method works best for an expected results, but while shaping and finishing I am on the alert to pick up on a characteristic born through the process that I never figured on. This spontaneity keeps things very interesting.
Jorie Johnson Spring Collection 2011 (beret, vest, skirt, neck wraps), wool, novelty yarn, silk fabric, linen lace fabric, silk cord. Photo by Toyoda Yuzo - View her works
You are using many layering techniques. Can you explain the process of making a new piece? How long does it take?
The matrix of the work is hard to see by the naked eye but while the selected wool fibers start their migration progress they entangle and actually pierce and consume auxiliary materials such as Japanese Washi, silk organza, cotton gauze, skeletal leaves, lace and so on, into the surface of the fabric and become an integral part of the finished fabric we call as FELT. Under optimal conditions (increase in humidity, higher temperatures, change in pH, application of agitation, etc.) and using a selection of different sheep breeds a variety of fabrics result from dense, coarse carpet weight to silky merino blends for sensual neck wraps.
In order to achieve fine fabrics I use many thin layers of carded wool but for the loftier carpets I use coarser wool in thicker layers. Once the design and materials are selected and the shrink factor determined I work as swiftly as possible to complete a piece within a few days as not to cause the wet wool and auxiliary materials to begin to break down. I have to commit to a “work swipe” as I call it, not to damage the wool, silk or other materials by keeping them wet for too long.
: What was the starting point in your investigation with ceramics? Do you remember your early works?
Tanoue Shinya: When I was a student of Theology at the Doshisha University, I also belonged to the ceramic club. I was just absorbed to make something with clay in the club’s room. I worked for some textile company for two years after the graduation, and I entered Kyoto Saga Art College because I wanted to learn more throwing techniques. I remember the pieces I made in the college very well. The pieces I’ve made in my freshman year are the origins of my current series.
KARA-10: Fu- a, 2010, Glazed clay, 7” x 26” x 4 1/2” (h) - View his works
Your works may be simple, but the details, the lines and curves of your works are very sinuous. Tell us about how do you construct your pieces.
After creating the vessel or sculpture’s shape with coil techniques, the slip is applied on the surface. And then I groove the surface with needles one by one and at the end I rub iron into those grooves.
The important theme of my pieces is the shell - egg shells, shells of fruits or seashells, because they are deeply related to the normal circles of life. The cobalt blue in the pieces represent the ocean, which is the origin of life on Earth. The wombs are consideres to be the shell of human beings, so if I could express in my pieces the memories of leaving the wombs (leaving forever the protective and comfortable feeling), it would be wonderful.
: You are about to start working as artist in residence at the Harvard Ceramic Studio. What do you hope you’ll learn from this experience?
Niisato Akio: I am very interested in the different perspectives on craft art, especially Ceramics between US and Japan. I feel that the vessels are more appreciated in Japan rather than US, as well as the ceramic art itself. I would like to know why and I will research on these issues during my stay at Harvard. I am looking forward to seeing new people who will give me a lots of inspiration.
Luminous Vessel, 2008, Glazed porcelain, 5” x 5” x 10” - View his works
Ceramics Now Magazine: The lightness and pureness of your works makes them unique. Tell us more about how do you make them.
Niisato Akio: White is a simple color, but it can express the subtle nuance between sensibility/ pureness and lights/ shadows.
After I throw the pieces, they are razed as thin as possible, and then I drill the holes with an electric drill, one by one.
After the firing, I sand the surfaces and the glaze is applied manually into the holes. Another glaze is applied all over the surfaces with a compressor and then the pieces go into the kiln at 2246(F). It is not so easy to make the smooth surface with a single firing, because the holes absorb the glaze very easily, so they need to be fired two or three times to get a nice result.
: You are a very young and talented artist. What was your first experience with art and with lacquer?
Murata Yoshihiko: I wasn’t exposed to the arts that much and didn’t know about Japanese lacquer work very well until I entered the art collage. I was interested in design and woodwork working and wanted to make the furniture for our daily life when I was a teenager. When I was a sophomore student, I choose the Urushi department for my major, but it was something uncomfortable for me. At first, I made many chaotic pieces, however those pieces are supposed to be an origin of my work today.
Silhouette-02, 2010, Maple wood, lacquer, 8” x 2 3/4” x 1 1/2” - View his works
Your works have an extraordinary sense of space and light, their shadows contrasting with the colors and the surroundings. How do you make these fantastic lines of dark? It has to do with the slim silhouettes of your works.
I simulate the three dimensional shapes in my mind, for example, how lines will be flowing or how they are placed on the pedestals or attached on the walls. I believe that only lines which look beautiful from any angles can make the lithe and sharp silhouette.
: Constructing your figurative pieces with such delicacy takes a lot of time. Can you tell us more about the process? What materials do you use?
Hayashi Shigeki: I make the prototypes with regular clay and make plaster casts for them. Then I pour the plaster, modify those plaster masters very carefully and create second plaster casts. Then I pour the slip into them and throw the remaining slip away. After taking the pieces out from the cast, I work on some final details and then put them into the kiln for the biscuit firing. I sand the biscuit surfaces and then second fire them at 2246 degrees (F). Additional decorations with gold or silver are added and then fired again at 1472(F). All the parts are assembled with epoxide-based adhesive and bolts. The latest work consists in forty parts. I am using thirty four different kinds of casts which are from two to seven split molds. Since I don’t have any assistancy, all the processes are done by myself. For my latest work, it took me nine months to make the casting process and one month for the firing and assembling process.
Your works look like tiny sophisticated robots. What do they represent? What message are you trying to send to the viewers?
They are characters in my imaginary science fiction world. Each audience may receive different kind of messages from my work. Someone will think positive about the future, bot others will feel my warning messages.
: In your career as a ceramic artist, you took the challenge of using white porcelain in constructing complex geometrical systems. Tell us more about the motifs of your work.
I want to make people feel the passage of time over my pieces. When people see the remains of a culture or decayed buildings, they evoke special emotions. I want to express not only the ruins themselves, but also the atmosphere surrounding them and their strong presence. In other words, I want the audience to feel exactly how I felt when I looked at the destroyed buildings and ruins.
Modern Remains D II, 2006, Glazed porcelain, 21” x 22” x 9” - View his works
In what techniques do you usually work and what materials do you use?
The pieces are made out of porcelain clay. I make many hollow square tubes with slip casting and compose them before they get dry. After the biscuit firing, I apply the glaze and put them into the kiln at 2264 (F). I use the electric kiln for my white pieces.
Time is something you’ve embraced when constructing (or deconstructing) your works. What’s your works’ relation with time?
The geometric dense squares represent man-made buildings and I considered that the pieces might be able to embrace time if I break them, because the decayed geometric construction might evoke us about our far future. Since the color of white shows the lights and shadows clearly and dramatically, it maximizes the pathos and emotion of the modern ruins.
: Your works are exquisite and embrace all the qualities of elegance and rhythm. Can you explain the constructing process? Do you work alone, do you have a studio? It sure needs a lot of delicacy.
Mariko Husain: I was very fortunate to have learned Jewelry design at Central School of Art and design in London, England where their focus was on teaching to follow the theme of one’s interest, explore all possibility and develop design fully. The process of my work is very much involved on developing ideas, drawings, playing with paper models and metal samples. Using paper and fabric pressing to create texture on metal and mat finish are my preference. All my work are created from sheet & wire of metal and hand made with no castings. The equipment I use includes various hand-tools, milling machine, flux soldering machine, etc. to produce my work. I have a studio where I work alone to create my designs and make my jewellery.
The continuous forms and elements of nature seem to be your inspiration, but have you ever tried to do something more rigid, or geometrical?
In the early stage of my career I tried to work on geometric designs, however I found my self drawn to the themes of nature especially the rhythm, movement, texture, power, stillness and so many variations of form and pattern of water.
What can you tell us about the theme of your works and the materials you use?
The theme of my work has been mainly water, including ocean, river, stream, water fall and lake. I work mostly with sterling silver accented with 18K. yellow gold. I like the visual effect of the combination. I occasionally work with 18K white gold. Many of my work include pearls, precious & semi precious stones.
: The market for your jewelries consists in elegant women. Where do you sell your pieces? Do you think that exhibiting them helps you work to be more recognizable?
Mariko Husain: Unless I am working on a commissioned pieces I do not think of my market. My ideas come to me naturally. If I were to focus only on certain demographics, I feel that it would stifle my creativity. I sell my work at Keiko Gallery in Boston MA. and I do yearly exhibitions in Tokyo, Japan. Due to these exposures I have gained many customers who look forward to my work and continue to return often to see my new creations.
What’s the most important advice you can give to a young artist?
If you follow your passion and pursue your dream every thing will come true.
Broach, 2011, Sterling silver, 18K gold, pearl, 2 3/4” x 1/2” x 3/8” - View her works
More than 30 years ago, you established your own independent studio for the production of fabric sculpture and bags. What can you tell us about the studio, how it evolved in time?
I would like to create the usable sculpture rather than just looking. I believe that this new concept appeals to many people, so I have been able to continue my style until now.
Your works have an amazing and innovative design which distinguish itself. You carefully chose the fabric material, and you try to make your works to be comfortable and complimentary to the human body. Doing all that, you find a balance between functionality and design. How?
Our body of work consists in many curved lines, so I always consider that the shape and lines of my purses can harmonize with our body line. I prefer to improvise rather than using the fixed patterns. That makes my purses comfortable to wear.