Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore / Copenhagen Ceramics

Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore exhibition Copenhagen Ceramics

Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore / Copenhagen Ceramics
October 25 – November 17, 2012

Artist talk: Saturday, October 27, at 2 pm.

The dish, the plate, the table and the flower. These common everyday objects and the most beloved iconic shapes from nature are framing in the lives of most people. For their shared exhibition at Copenhagen Ceramics Marianne Nielsen and Anne Tophøj are investigating why and how we value these universal expressions of culture and nature. But what is elitist folklore? What does it look like from their point of view?

Marianne Nielsen occupies a very special position in Danish Ceramics. She takes interest, in an almost nerdy way, in the role of nature in our culture. In recent years her work often has concluded in definite renderings of natural subjects: mountains, feathers, leaves and now flowers and plants. As a kind of souvenir they refer to something beyond ourselves, being continuous, universal and something which, through its authenticity, contains an essential beauty. Yet, the representations of nature are about ourselves, since they only acquire their meaning through our very own gaze.

Marianne Nielsen articulates this: ’Flowers hold a modest position in the arts as something banal, soft, often assigned the subordinate part. For these pieces I have let the flower be on its own, allowing it to make up the entire work. The works are about what is not directly present – the references linked to flowers, both as representatives of beauty and natural souvenirs. But they also deal with that particular application that has worn down the flower-motif and turned it into a cliché.’

In a similar way Anne Tophøj is working with the values and inherent meanings of things. Either because the artifacts contain specific images or symbols that pass on a story or message, or by suggesting a particular use or way of handling.

Characteristic of her work she investigates the dish and the plate, objects that we are all very familiar with and make daily use of. As she herself puts it:The plate and the dish are signs of human culture and how we raise ourselves above the animals; they are pivotal in all eating rituals and our daily meals. Artefacts that we all have in common – universal, banal, indispensable tools helping us to sustain life. They are beloved and treasured objects that different cultures and times have shaped endlessly for use and for ornamentation, for the table and for the wall.”

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Patricia Sannit - Artist of the month, October 2012

ARTIST OF THE MONTH, October 2012: Patricia Sannit

Patricia Sannit - Artist of the month on Ceramics Now Magazine

Interview by Ileana Surducan for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two

How did your experience in working on archeological sites in Jordan and Ethiopia influenced your work?

My work in Jordan and Ethiopia profoundly changed my work. I went to Jordan between my undergraduate degree and my graduate degree. At that point, I was already serious about clay, and although my early training had a functional emphasis (the well known American potter Warren Mackenzie was a teacher and influence), I had become more interested in sculpture. But my work had little focus and I was frustrated by what I saw as the triviality of my work. It didn’t seem to have a core or substance.

Before University, I had been an exchange student in Norway and had learned a lot about history, arts and culture there, but had not put it to any good use. However, when I went to Jordan, two things happened. I traveled all over the region - into Syria and Israel, and throughout Jordan, notable the amazing Petra. I was deeply impressed by the ancient culture and the design of the buildings and tombs and the handmade objects resonated with me. I understood finally that there was a connection between people and cultures and it was in a way manifested through the visual vocabulary around me. It related to the textiles of Scandinavia and the work that I had done as a kid. The desire to create some order, through geometry, on the natural world, and on roughly hewn stone and constructions seemed universal.

My other experience there that had a huge and lasting impact on me was the excavation itself. At Ain Ghazal, working in a “square” (archeological sites are frequently divided into precise squares so as to map out the location of a find onto three points in space) and seeing how the layers of the earth marked time and culture, hiding, or harboring, the evidence of past people was exciting to me. I recognized and felt awed by all of the people who had come before me. Ain Ghazal was first settled about 7250 B.C., during the so-called Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) period. The result of our excavation was the discovery of a diverse assemblage of symbols including tokens of many shapes, animal and human figurines, modeled human skulls, “monumental” statues and mural and floor paintings. My square had a beautiful floor painting of iron oxide on plaster. During the final days of the field season, I worked to uncover the floor. As a ceramic artist, discovering a plaster floor painted with iron oxide, the same Iron oxide that I used so often in my work, was a thrill. But more significantly, as I knelt, sweeping the dust from the floor, I felt a profound sense of connection to the women who had lived there 9000 plus years before. I knew that we had shared many of the same feelings and concerns; I felt connected and understood that there was a huge chain of humanity of which I was a part. I still get goose bumps thinking of it. And that sense of our common humanity is what still informs my work today.

My subsequent adventure was in Ethiopia. I am very fortunate to have married a man who works at what is called the “Lucy” site in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Lucy is an Australopithicus afarensis, and her species populated that part of Africa between 3 and 4 million years ago. She is pat of our species ancestry. As one scans the ground for fossils, walking in the same rough wadis where our earliest ancestors walked, the sense of our history coming to surface is very powerful. It’s a beautiful place, though drier now than it was when Lucy lived there. It is very quiet and empty, and potent with history.

Patricia Sannit Ceramics - Artist of the month on Ceramics Now Magazine
Patricia Sannit, Cradle, 2010, hand-built, carved and incised reclaimed clays, slip and stain, 21”x32”x12” - View Patricia’s works

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Annie Woodford - Spotlight, October 2012

SPOTLIGHT, October 2012: Annie Woodford

Annie Woodford - Spotlight on Ceramics Now Magazine

Interview by Ileana Surducan and Vasi Hîrdo for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two

You take your inspiration from nature. You are not just making a superficial observation, but you conduct a research of the things hidden to the naked eye. Tell us more about the universe you have discovered through your explorations.

I am fascinated by the natural world in its widest sense and at all levels. An interest in the nature of time - the past, present and future has led me to investigate multiverse theory and hidden dimensions - concealed worlds. From there I began to examine nature on a microscopic and nano scale. I became fascinated by the concept of the unseen and rendering it seen.

One of the subjects I investigated was that of diatoms, especially fossil diatoms. Invisible to the naked eye, beautiful and structurally complex I discovered them to bevery significanting the field of paleoclimatology - they are an important indicator of climate change.

I like to select various aspects of the natural world and then examine them on both a macroscopic and microscopic level, considering them in terms of their relationship to time and how they relate to other parts of the universe.

[] Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Intricate but also delicate, your work seems to be obtained through a very meticulous process. What materials and techniques do you use and how much time does it take to complete a new piece?

Porcelain is the clay I favor - I particularly like ‘Southern Ice White’ which was developed by the Australian ceramicist Les Blakebrough. In general, the works are handbuilt; occasionally I use slip in a free but controlled way, sometimes combining it with fine glass fibre. I like to push the material beyond its perceived boundaries. The characteristics of porcelain mean that it requires careful handling throughout the making process and control and accuracy with firing and cooling.

I often incorporate extraneous materials once the piece is fired such as metal, monofilament, fibre or horsehair. These elements add richness to the work.

A new piece can take up to two weeks to make, depending on its complexity and it can take a further week or two to construct and apply other elements. I work intuitively when I am making, drawing on my research and bringing all the experiences together.

[] Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Annie Woodford Contemporary Ceramics, Ceramics Now Magazine
Annie Woodford, Circlet, 2009, Porcelain, copper, stainless steel, 24 x 24 x 24 cm
View Annie Woodford’s works

Both science and art are a way of looking at the surrounding environment. What do you think is their meeting point? What kind of form of knowledge is art?

I often find myself working with scientists on projects and I think the two disciplines have many aspects in common. They both help us to understand the world around us. They both rely on investigation and imagination – the ‘what if?’ principle.

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Cristina Popescu Russu - Romanian ceramic artist, October 2012

ROMANIAN CONTEMPORARY CERAMICS, October 2012: Cristina Popescu Russu

Cristina Popescu Russu - Romanian contemporary ceramics

Interview by Alexandra Mureşan for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two

In 1975 you graduated Ceramics at the Nicolae Grigorescu Arts Institute in Bucharest. You have been active in this domain for over 35 years, all marked by a large number of exhibitions, as well as participations to international symposiums. How was this passion for ceramics born? Have you had any masters that marked your career?

In the Music & Fine Arts Highschool in Craiova, the teachers Şopov Cole Nicos, Ion Marineanu and Vasile Buz have inspired me a love for painting as well as for molding. I fell in love with our prehistoric ceramics and from then on I knew I would dedicate myself to this domain.  
In the N. Grigorescu Arts Institute in Bucharest I had the privilege of meeting remarkable teachers: Lucia Ioan Neagu, Costel Badea. I learned something from each of them, namely to learn as much arts history as possible, to investigate, to experiment and to be creative at the same time, to not plagiarize, to know that talent had no significance without daily work, and that only the well made work, the passionate one - can lead to performance.

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Arina Ailincai - Romanian ceramic artist, October 2012

ROMANIAN CONTEMPORARY CERAMICS, October 2012: Arina Ailincăi

Arina Ailincai - Romanian ceramic artist, Romanian contemporary ceramics special feature

Interview by Vasi Hîrdo for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two
Translation by Anca Sânpetrean

What was your first contact with ceramics?

The first meeting with ceramic took place when I entered the university, as I decided to take the admission exam for the Ceramics Department. The reason for this option was the liberal reputation held by the Ceramics Department, mainly due to the young teachers of various formations, who were encouraging the free investigation subordinated to an “interdisciplinary” that at that time was quite attractive.

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Marta Jakobovits - Romanian ceramic artist, October 2012

ROMANIAN CONTEMPORARY CERAMICS, October 2012: Marta Jakobovits

Marta Jakobovits - Romanian ceramic artist

Interview by by Ileana Surducan and Alexandra Mureşan for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two

What message or emotion do you want to convey to the observer through your works? Is your artistic undertake based on a certain idea or is it more of a searching process and experimentation?

For me, this process is never conscious, programmed or preconceived. It is more of a constant experiment that is absolutely instinctive. My only guides on this path are those primal, undefined sensations generated by touching and feeling the malleable and permissive clay.
Only afterwards I come to realize with wonder that a kind of actualization takes place - a humble identification, like a translation of some archaic, immemorial message. When I stop and ”read” the pieces that I created, and I analyze the way I created them, I marvel and realize that an actualization was already in me, that that translation was made through me.

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Kwok-Pong Bobby Tso - Spotlight, October 2012

SPOTLIGHT, October 2012: Kwok-Pong Bobby Tso

Kwok-Pong Bobby Tso - Spotlight on Ceramics Now Magazine

Interview by Ileana Surducan for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two

Your work evokes artificial landscapes and strange architectural agglomerations. What is your source of inspiration?

Most of my work inspired by man-made objects; something like a view of building blocks from the sky, transformer boxes out in the field, and strange formations on the roof. Recently I started to add more abstracted objects, like the connection parts of an exhaust fan, pipe or even inside a lock. I am inspired by something that is recognizable but has an uncertain function.

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Anti-Utopias / Sabin Bors - EXTRA!, October 2012

EXTRA!, October 2012: Anti-Utopias / Sabin Borş

Anti-Utopias contemporary art platform

Interview by Vasi Hîrdo for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two

You hold functions such as curator, associate editor and columnist for different magazines, and you recently initiated a contemporary art platform titled Anti-Utopias. Since you don’t have any formal art education, how did you become interested in contemporary art?

Art has always been one of my main interests, ever since I was a kid, and though I did not follow any formal art education, I did follow an MA in philosophy and culture where some of the major topics we discussed have been Art, Institutions and Cultural Policies, The Artist’s Statute in Post-Modern Culture, or Contemporary Perspectives Upon Culture. I also follow a PhD with a thesis on the future of museums, in terms of art, policies, architecture. Throughout the years I’ve kept a close contact with art in my readings and references, and I think coming from the “outside” is actually an advantage because it allows me to view art in a broader context and integrate its discourse differently. At the same time, I am also aware of the two perils with philosophers discussing art: on the one hand, they run the risk of subsuming art to a philosophical speech; on the other hand, they can feed art with concepts that only deepen the dilemmas of contemporary art and thus contribute to its fractures. When I started Anti-Utopias, my main concern was to create a thematic platform bearing in mind these two perils precisely, but also the theoretical abundance where art in general claims itself from. 

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In memoriam Eugenia Pop / Interview

ROMANIAN CONTEMPORARY CERAMICS, October 2012

In memoriam Eugenia Pop
Eugenia Pop lived and worked in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where she graduated from the Ceramics Department of “Ion Andreescu” Arts Institute in 1971. Over the course of 40 years, she had exhibited in many countries and has been awarded for her career by the Romanian Government (Order of Cultural Merit) and the Fine Arts Union.

Eugenia Pop Romanian ceramic artist

Two days after our meeting in February, Eugenia Pop went to the Copăceni alms house, near Turda, to read in peace a book by Zhi Gang Sha. She wanted to learn how to communicate better with her guardian angel. She told us that the spirit must be cleaned more frequently.

We thank Jeni Pop from our hearts and promise to carry her optimism out in the world.

Interview by Alexandra Mureşan and Vasi Hîrdo for Ceramics Now Magazine, Issue Two
February 2012

How did the fascination for ceramics started?

I graduated Ceramics at the Fine Arts Highschool in Cluj. In the twelfth grade I had an excessive curiosity to do work as much as possible, that’s why I chose ceramics. I was a colleague with Arina Ailincăi for 6 years. We were also six in the department. Our personalities were very different, and they remained the same. A sculptor inoculated me the idea of versions. He gave me a theme, a ceramic piece in an architectural environment. After a few sketches, he told me to do more versions. I didn’t like the idea – why make more versions when the first one was good enough? But, if the master told me, I had to do it. I did lots of versions and sketches, from bad to worse. He chose from the first two, and I remained very sad because I worked so hard on so many. After a while, the seed sprouted in my mind. I was at a Communist party meeting, and I got very bored. I had my sketchbook at me and I was doing all sorts of sketches and drawings. The expression was changing with little diversity if terms of form. I showed the sketches to my professor. It remained my method over the years.

Now I stopped doing more versions on a theme. I read books, for example those written by Rudolf Steiner, and I make illustrations on the pages. When reading a book twice, the images speak to me a lot more and I feel the text very differently when it’s illustrated, just like a plastic commentary.

What are your main sources of inspiration?

I broke up with the illustrative image of the exterior form. I adhered to the archetypal forms, which are interior forms of the soul, forms that kids use when drawing, but also used in the antic culture.

Mihai Oroveanu said “Look how monumental your works are,” even if they were very small. Dan Hăliucă said the contrary: “That’s how it should be – plenty and small.” I used this thing with plenty and small a lot, because that’s how the image of the soul is. The soul is very capacious. From it’s ampleness you can make plenty and small.

A moment of crystallization appeared when I found my personality – when I said that this is how I want to express myself. It was the humanity theme, the man. The mother man, the old man, the child man. Mother Earth. These are themes that I feel I synthesized.
When I was young, my mother used to call me “little golden thorn” – she couldn’t tell me that I was not right, but I was also very determined. I was telling the truth.

Eugenia Pop - Mother Earth, ceramics
Eugenia Pop, Mother Earth, 1985, Soft porcelain

What is your dearest part in elaborating a new work?

Each part has its own magic. The first one is sketching the idea and choosing the right drawing, then follows the modeling and making the negative. After that, the fascination of the firing starts. It is like when a mother gives birth – she doesn’t know how the child will look like or what color his eyes will be. It is just like that after the firing, when you remain charmed by an object, and you say to yourself that this is mine! – its color has changed and it shrank. After you inspect it for a while, you adopt it or not. Sometimes you have to say I’m sorry – this is not mine.

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Carsten Nicolai - Unidisplay

“The installation unidisplay offers an examination of semiotics and the laws of perception. The work operates with a number of modules of different visual effects that interfere with the viewers’ perception, through optical illusion, jitter, flicker, after-image, movement, complementary colour effect, and so on. The installation unfolds against a long projection wall with two mirror walls on the side thus visually expanding like a universe. The basic visual, made up of sequences, motifs and graphic translations of various units of time measurement acts as a world clock and evokes the intertwining of time, between past, present and future. The installation is created with Derivatice’s TouchDesigner software which has been used for alva noto live performances with a triple-screen projection.” (via)

More connections »

(via rcruzniemiec-deactivated2013020)

The reopening of Fabrica de Pensule / Cluj-Napoca, Romania

The reopening of the Paintbrush Factory Fabrica de Pensule, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

The reopening of Fabrica de Pensule / Cluj-Napoca, Romania
October 5, 2012
- 7-10 PM


Contemporary art exhibitions:
SABOT
/ Paul Branca – L’origine de l’espace privée
Plan B / Alexandra Croitoru – Do not forget you are an artist!
Peleş Empire / Original/Copy III
Lateral Art Space / Adrian Sabău – In-lined
Baziş / Bandi Saşa – Persona non grătar
Baril / Constantin Flondor – Sifting
AltArt / Time’s Up (AT) – Unattended Luggage
Intact Space / Fake it! Limited Edition
Etaj III, corridor / Ana Adam – Drawings
open studio / Istvan Cîmpan (first floow)
open studio / George Crîngaşu (SABOT Residence Space, forth floor)

+ Divas at Sala Studio (8 pm). Directed by Ferenc Sinkó, GroundFloor Group.

The exhibitions are part of the Contemporary Art Factory project organized by The Paintbrush Factory (Fabrica de Pensule) and financed by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund (AFCN).

Fabrica de Pensule / The Paintbrush Factory is a collective space for contemporary arts in Cluj, Romania. The project started at the beginning of 2009, as an independent initiative to bring together ideas, events and projects of cultural organizations, galleries, producers and independent artists in Cluj and as a reaction to the local lack of production and exhibition spaces in the city.

The artists, galleries and organizations – active in the fields of theater, contemporary dance, visual arts, arts in public space, music – are jointly engaged into delivering relevant cultural content, both for the artistic community and the wide audience. Besides artist studios and production spaces, Fabrica de Pensule also hosts events of local and international partners. It acts as a major player in cultural and urban policies in the Romanian context.

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Month in Review: September 2012

Featured on Ceramics Now: Bertozzi & Casoni's Regeneration exhibition at All Visual Arts, London

Hello friends. Welcome to Month in Review, a summary of the last month of activity here at Ceramics Now.
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This month’s featured artists (view list):

Elizabeth Shriver (works)
David Gallagher (works)
Francesco Ardini (works)
Ellen Schön (works)

This month’s featured exhibitions:

Ceramics Now Team Exhibition / Europe Gallery, Brasov
Contemporary Ceramics / Stremmel Gallery, Reno, NV
Ellen Schön: Vessel Variations (x3) / Vessels Gallery
Fragile! In Transit / Traveling exhibition around Europe
Scandinavian Design / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Marek Cecuła: SEEDS / Glass and Ceramics, Wrocław
Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos / NEW MUSEUM, New York
Bharti Kher / Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art
Ruth Duckworth exhibition / Erskine Hall & Coe, London
Contemporary Clay Invitational / j fergeson gallery
Arina Ailincăi: In-Scripted Body / Art on the Avenue
Scandinavian Ceramics Conference 2012 / Hjørring
Clémence van Lunen exhibition / Galerie NeC, Hong Kong
MOUNTED / Red Lodge Clay Center, Red Lodge, Montana
CONCEPTION - Part Two / Canvas Galleries, Belfast
Aneta Regel Deleu / Puls Contemporary Ceramics
Liliana Folta / Amazing Things Art Center, Framingham
Reviving the light: Zsolnay Ceramic Design / ILIAD, NY
Bertozzi & Casoni: Regeneration / All Visual Arts, London

This month’s featured connections:

Daehyun Kim Illustrations
Mimicry Chairs by Japanese design studio Nendo
Martin Creed on My Modern Metropolis
Leslie David - Painting Please!
Tim Hawkinson - Mobius Ship
Robert Montgomery: Echoes of Voices in the High Towers
James Hoff: I’m Already a Has-Been / VI, VII, Oslo
Anna Von Mertens - Portraits

This month’s news on Ceramics Now:

New publishing schedule for print and digital
New magazine shop - 10% Sale ends December 31, 2012
We hit 25000 followers on Tumblr (27600 now)
Published Calendar of Ceramic Art Competitions for 2013

Next month’s news: Ceramics Now Exhibition - 3rd edition

Carol Gouthro: Anthozoa gouthroii “Viridis”, 2012, Terrecotta clay with underglazes and glazes, 6”h. x 10.5”w .x  6.5”d

Carol Gouthro: Anthozoa gouthroii “Chromatella”, 2012, Terrecotta clay with underglazes and glazes, 6”h. x 10”w .x  6”d

Bertozzi & Casoni: Regeneration / All Visual Arts, London

Bertozzi Casoni Regeneration exhibition, All Visual Arts, London

Bertozzi & Casoni: Regeneration / All Visual Arts, London
October 13 - November 10, 2012

Private view: October 12, 7-9 pm.

All Visual Arts are proud to present Regeneration, a unique installation from Italian artists Bertozzi & Casoni. The artists are acclaimed for their delicate depictions of a culture in decay, deftly rendered in fragile ceramic clay. Their latest work Regeneration queries the hierarchy of aesthetics, revealing the beauty in the neglected and discarded ephemera of our seamless culture. The pieces compel the viewer to confront the visceral decay of contemporary society, to expose the cracks between the artifice of the world we are presented with and to explore what lies within these fissures. With this imaginative approach to their practice, Bertozzi and Casoni align the traditional with the experimental, and allow us to construct our own narrative around their evocative scenes.

Bertozzi and Casoni manipulate the indistinction between the real and the simulacrum in their work, an obsession for detail which evokes the Decadent taste for imitation and crafted artifice as superior to the natural. In fabricating these visually and emotionally compelling still-lifes, the artists engage the viewer in deeper themes of impermanence and mortality. Through rendering the abject and overlooked in such exquisite detail, Bertozzi and Casoni signal the return of the repressed, the avoidance of our own mortality. In one piece in which the memento mori is explicitly rendered, an ox skull is dominated by a vivid monitor lizard, symbolic of both death and rebirth in its habitat across Asia and Australia. In the antonymously titled DisGRACE, vibrant blooms sprout from the polluted detritus of a decadent and avaricious society, a scene of nature triumphing over the excesses of hyper-capitalism.

Regeneration contemplates the possibility of change through rebirth, rediscovery and reappropriation, manipulating earth into elegant and fragile structures. In one piece, a cluster of butterflies flock to raise the severed head of a deer from an ornamental platter, recalling the Renaissance representations of John the Baptist or Holofernes. In a similar echo of classical scenes, and dominating the Regeneration is the serene image of a silverback gorilla resting in the Buddhist lotus position on a bed of discarded mattresses. A roe deer lies prone across its body, while wrens and goldcrests commune around the pair. The piece is an evocation of symbolic power, from the visceral confrontation of our Darwinian descendent dying out in front of our eyes, to the shift between the viewer and sculpture, object and subject as we find ourselves caught in the compassionate gaze of the animals. Our own mortality is inscribed in the tableaux where urban structures, religion and the animal world collide to reveal the grace in disgrace which Bertozzi and Casoni seek to capture.

It seems appropriate that the duo push their material to its limits and question the possibility of representation in their work at every turn. Their liberal accumulation and compilation of cultural references is evident in the playful amalgamation of objects in a work where a swordfish’s head juts from a guitar case; the shapes tessellating the natural with the cultural. Their curiosity and playful approach to objects creates a process of continual experimentation and discovery, freeing themselves from convention and the stereotypes of the ornamental and domestic associated with the ceramic medium, and producing unexpected moments of pathos and humour through their synthesis of past and present, nature and artifice. The artists subvert the established rules about the perception of applied arts through inverting the symbolic power of their traditional medium, exceeding the inherent conservativism of ceramics to sculpt fantastic and grotesque scenes that liberate both the artist and viewer’s imagination.

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