Ryan Blackwell was born and raised in Indiana — receiving a BA in Studio Art from DePauw University in 2009. Expecting to graduate from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the spring of 2013 with an MFA, Ryan intends to move to Brooklyn and continue his journey as an emerging artist.
“My practice is rooted in material investigation. I find my work in a consistent state of flux. Processes change and evolve, imagery comes and goes. This minute I’m steeped in symbolism, say, through the repetition of thousands of dustpans, while the other I’m firmly rooted in geometric abstraction.
My fluid framework reflects my experience of American culture—a place where I navigate free choice and inherent socio-political and economic constraints. Through symbols and materials of domesticity my works find some continuity. It is my intention to create works that, in relation to each other, seem as dichotomous as they are connected. Although materials and processes may seem disparate, they find connection through aesthetics and systematic repetition. It is through a controlled failure of my materials and systems that I find consistency. But of course, inconsistency is always present.” Ryan Blackwell
Marie Torbensdatter Hermann exhibition / Galerie Nec, Paris October 26 - November 24, 2012
"The work reflects on some kind of strange family of domestic objects, they are bound together by a form of action, something undefinable but with a hint of a purpose. As if they are there for one very specific reason, each with a small specific individual function, but on their own they are un-significant, it is as a group how they become useful and self-sufficient. It is in the choice of grouping certain objects with each other and in the spacing of them, that they come into existence. I also see a big part of my practice as an arranger. Someone arranges objects and creates small details, small shots taken from a lager scenario. As if we have the time line in constant flux, I make the decision on where to cut out one image and create that as a memory of what ones was, before it moved on to become something else." Marie T. Hermann
“Looking around Marie T. Hermann’s most recent exhibition of work, we may well have a similar feeling: that we are in the presence of pots that don’t quite need us. They are just fine on their own, thank you. Poised atop their handmade clay shelves, microcosms like the implacably calm still life paintings of Morandi, or set out in a neat ring on the gallery floor, these ceramic sculptures have a quiet assurance, an ease that belies the difficulty of their own making.
You almost have to remind yourself that it’s by no means easy to create this sense of completeness. The usual way of doing it is to make objects that are resolutely alien to everyday experience: the abstract geometries of De Stijl, the weird and hermetic object-poems of the Surrealists, the industrial quality of Minimalist sculpture, or the unearthly light and space created by artist James Turrell. While Hermann’s work is influenced by all of these art historical references, she appeals to something more humble and humane than any of them. As is true of most potters, even those working in the manner of installation artists, daily use is constantly at issue for her – either as a haunting presence or a conspicuous absence. The inclusion of two plates, one sunk into its shelf and the other just emerging, gratifies our expectations on this score, even as the closing off of vases at the mouth refuses it.
While her commitment to achieving a unified aesthetic impression is total, it seems to me that her greatest interest as an artist comes at the level of the detail. Yes, she knows she must (according to some modernist logic) ‘earn’ the right to create an interesting shape, like a sharp break in the profile of a vase, or a gentle curve in the rim of a plate. For her, these subtle touches have to make sense within an overriding context.
Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is delighted to present young New York artist Francesca DiMattio’s first solo exhibition in Europe from 10 October to 17 November 2012, and her first showing in London since her large scale canvases were seen in Saatchi Gallery’s Abstract America in 2009. Bloemenhouder and Kandelaar offers us the opportunity to see DiMattio’s vibrant and painterly sculptures standing on their own, showing the vitality and eccentricity of the large-scale ceramic pieces she has been developing over the past two years.
DiMattio’s paintings have often made reference to feminine craft techniques such as sewing, weaving or quilt making. In an attempt to shift the assumption that these crafts are most often delicate or small-scale domestic creations, she scales them up and uses a rougher, more masculine hand. Keeping with an interest in domestic craft, it is fitting that her sculptures are formed from ceramic. Using a material deeply ingrained in rules, craft and history, she turns it on its head by irreverently pulling from its history and pairing extravagant reference with crude slabs marked by fingers and punch marks.
In this exhibition, DiMattio investigates the history of porcelain to examine the ways in which visual iconography moves through culture. She looks at how porcelain’s visual history is one of copies, fakes and re-makes; how a revered technique such as the blue and white design found on a Ming Vase was copied by the English, Dutch and French, morphing and changing slightly through each iteration, and can now be found on a kitsch object in a gift shop. Like her paintings, the sculptures here juxtapose conflicting historical references, from 18th century English Wedgwood, French Rococo and Ming Dynasty to kitsch animal figurines. These are grafted objects, fusing disparate elements into a curious new whole. Each piece is made completely as one, rather than from found forms put together after the firing. The different passages affect one another, with glaze from one element interrupting, transforming and connecting multiple facets of the same sculpture.
DiMattio’s new work incorporates bases and handles of various forms, from gilded heaps of clay to delicately sculpted adorning flowers. Bases of piled up clay are reminiscent of Chris Ofili’s elephant dung, whilst a slumping torso-like coil pot seems on the verge of collapse. Debris made by sculpting animalia has been collected and put on the adjacent surface, creating a rough texture made of dust, chunks and trimmings, and elements in high gloss sit next to bright matte colour. DiMattio creates unstable and shifting objects that are a combination of various logics of taste. In Cuvette à Tombeau, one moment the china-painted landscape is beautiful and the bright rough-textured yellow feels broken, crude or flawed, and on a second look, the texture becomes vibrant and rich, whilst the landscape becomes something you might find in a thrift shop. The changeability of taste is heightened and examined through DiMattio’s uncanny pairings that ask the viewer to look closely at and interrogate these new abstract and de-hierarchised forms.