Ceramic artists list
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Contemporary Art

William J. O’Brien: The Lovers / Almine Rech Gallery, Paris

William O'Brien: The Lovers at Almine Rech Gallery Paris

William J. O’Brien: The Lovers / Almine Rech Gallery, Paris
January 9 - February 15, 2014

Almine Rech Gallery is pleased to announce ‘The Lovers’, the first solo exhibition by William J. O’Brien in France.

Prior to a major survey exhibition of the young American artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, this exhibition brings together a series of ceramic sculptures made between 2008 and 2013, and a series of new works on paper. This exhibition reflects the diversity of mediums and themes found in O’Brien’s work for almost ten years.

William J. O’Brien is part of the return to ceramics in contemporary art, seen over the last ten years with artists such as Rosemarie Trockel, Thomas Schütte and subsequently taken on by a younger generation of artists. His ceramic sculptures reflect the extent of his vocabulary by developing complementary or opposite forms: they oscillate between matt and gloss, between anthropomorphic shapes with smudges and drips; as well as geometric abstraction reminiscent of Calder. The shaping hand always present, there is a primitive element that immediately stands out – whether referencing the grinning masks of the South Pacific or the plastic qualities found in the culture of native Americans. For O’Brien this is not an identity issue nor a tribute to a native history: the artist was born in Ohio, and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, so his use of primitive forms is more akin to Picasso, Paul Klee or the Surrealists; taking an oppositional stance relative to a certain automated sophistication of form found in many artists of his generation. O’Brien’s ceramic practice skillfully plays with this return to primary expressionism (it is curious to note that the artist was an instructor at a center for the mentally ill), a representation of the human sometimes flirting with the grotesque, but presented on pedestals made by the artist, an institutional device that is simultaneously perfect and ironic. This primitive and modernist dual heritage is also an important anchor in teaching at the Art Institute and on Chicago Art, which shapes the sensibilities of such artists as Nancy Spero or more recently Sterling Ruby. Indeed, one of the first group shows to introduce O’Brien was “Modern Primitivism” at the Shane Campbell Gallery in 2009. The Lovers affords us the possibility to understand the extent of his expression, both sensitive and informed.

Born in 1975 in Eastlake, Ohio, William J. O‘Brien lives and works in Chicago. Recent and important exhibitions include Wet ‘N Wild at Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York, 2013); The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Overland Park, KS, 2012); Works on Paper at SHAHEEN Modern and Contemporary Art (Cleveland, Ohio, 2011); and The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago (Chicago, 2011). The artist‘s first major survey exhibition opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago in January 2014.
Words by Judith Souriau

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  • Lynda Benglis / Cheim & Read, New York

    Lynda Benglis exhibition Cheim and Read Gallery

    Lynda Benglis / Cheim & Read Gallery, New York
    January 16 - February 15, 2014

    Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1941, Lynda Benglis moved to New York City in the late 60s. Her early, ground-breaking work – landscape-like, sculptural installations of poured polyurethane foam and latex – confronted the then-current, male-dominated tropes of Minimalism with brightly-colored, biomorphic forms which embraced themes of ambiguity, femininity, nature and transformation. Their formal ambiguity resisted easy definition: Benglis has long critiqued the art world’s attempt at classifications and hierarchies, as well as societal boundaries of sexuality and gender. Simultaneously seductive and grotesque, Benglis’s work has always been the result of a fluid and organic working process, in which difficult-to-control materials help determine the final outcome. Her ceramic sculptures, though more intimate in scale, are also constructed with deference to the medium’s inherent characteristics. While the clay works accentuate issues she has addressed throughout her career – the blurring of distinctions between pliable and rigid, accidental and intentional, form and shapelessness – they also expand the scope of her artistic methods, engaging notions of craft, functionality, and primeval history.

    Benglis had experimented with clay as a student in the early 1960s, but didn’t pursue it as a medium until the early 1990s. Her newest work, made in New Mexico, retain the earthy, elemental, primal nature of clay, and highlight the material’s unique susceptibility to the artist’s touch: clay easily preserves the physical impressions of the hands which mold it. Benglis does not use a potter’s wheel, but hand-builds with tubes and slabs of clay, pinching, stacking, squeezing, pulling and smoothing them into complex sculptural compositions. Sometimes wave-like and lyrical, sometimes squat and spherical, Benglis’s ceramics explore various manifestations, excavations and manipulations of form. She collapses the boundaries between interior and exterior space, using both hollowed out and compacted elements which collide and fuse together reinforcing the sexual undercurrents of her muscular, polymorphic shapes.

    Benglis’s ceramics condense the full-bodied gesture of her earlier work into the more focused expressions of her hands. As with her other work, color becomes an equally important component. Benglis’s glazes – pinks and mauves, earthy greens, blacks, ochres, and blues – are oozed, dripped, brushed and poured on, coalescing in some areas and avoiding others, providing texture and variability to the already tactile, unglazed surface of the clay. Benglis’s painterly application of glaze re-contextualizes her forms, as if they were not sculptural, but paintings in three-dimensional, physical space. Again, ambiguity and transformation remain at the core of her practice. Benglis’s creative process is evident in her works’ final realization: one imagines its physical making and thus identifies with the intensity and focus of her artistic methodology.

    Lynda Benglis resides in New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her work is in important public collections, and has been exhibited extensively. Benglis was the subject of a 2010-11 international retrospective which traveled to The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; The Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Le Consortium, Dijon; New Museum, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

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  • Mixed Display 2014 / Marsden Woo Gallery, London
    January 10 - February 15, 2014

    Photos © Philip Sayer, courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery, London.

    > More exhibitions / View the list of contemporary ceramic exhibitions

  • Anne Wenzel: The Opaque Palace / TENT Rotterdam

    Anne Wenzel The Opaque Palace at TENT Rotterdam

    Anne Wenzel: The Opaque Palace / TENT Rotterdam
    February 6 - May 5, 2014

    Opening reception: Thursday, February 6th, from 8 pm.

    The Opaque Palace transforms the exhibition spaces of TENT into an installation in which the monumental sculptures of Anne Wenzel (DE, lives and works in Rotterdam) provide a coherent representation of the major themes in her work – power, destruction, heroism, history – and a new series of sculptures are introduced. Daria de Beauvais, from Palais de Tokyo, Paris, has curated the exhibition. With Anne Wenzel’s solo exhibition, her largest yet, TENT celebrates the re-opening of its newly renovated building.

    The Opaque Palace exhibition unfolds as a route through an abandoned palace laden with old, long forgotten stories. A palace where light enters through a broken window, and a net curtain is stirred by the breeze. For her largest solo exhibition yet, Anne Wenzel uses works from the past decade to construct a mental puzzle in TENT. With every space you enter, the function, symbolism, and impact of the objects seem to be further derailed, until they seemingly dislodge from their traditional meaning: sculptures become trophies (or quite the opposite), either paying tribute to heroes or denying heroism altogether. Anne Wenzel’s work resists any interpretation lurking behind their undeniable physicality.

    In the monumental emptiness of the main hall, which could be interpreted as a ballroom, a black chandelier has slumped before a wall of shiny gold; the object of light becomes an extinguished mass. In TENT’s back space, Wenzel presents her latest series of works, Attempted Decadence: a group of lavishly decorated ceramic flower sculptures. What life remains – temporarily saved by the art – is already a witness to its own decline. In this ‘Opaque Palace’, everyone is free to reinvent the past that made visions like this possible.

    From a strong historical sense and with great political engagement, Anne Wenzel puts the role of art in the portrayal of power, heroism, and violence in another light. She is renowned for her self-determined approach to handling materials and technology. Experimenting with extremes of scale, chemical additions, and radical deformation, she seeks out the boundaries of the sculptural medium. Wenzel draws inspiration for her monumental ceramic sculptures from historical sources, film, and literature, as well as from the media and its newsworthy images of natural disasters, conflict, and acts of war. Her attention to universal subjects connects her to a growing number of artists who transcend post-modern irony and are not afraid to, again, address existential themes.

    Wenzel has lived and worked in Rotterdam since 1999. Her work is included in museum collections (Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Stedelijk Museum ‘s Hertogenbosch, S.M.A.K. Ghent, et al.) and in many private collections. She is represented by gallery AKINCI in Amsterdam, Galerie Tatjana Pieters in Ghent, and Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve in Paris.

    Anne Wenzel The Opaque Palace at TENT Rotterdam

    Accompanying the exhibition is an extensive monograph, Anne Wenzel - Prospects of Perception, published by Lecturis in collaboration with TENT and designed by 75B. It includes texts by Philippe Van Cauteren (director S.M.A.K. Ghent), Sjarel Ex (director Museum Boijmans van Beuningen), Daria de Beauvais (curator Palais de Tokyo, Paris) and Mariette Dölle (artistic director TENT), and photographs of her most important sculptures and installations from the past decade.

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  • Simon Fujiwara / Contemporary Art Society, London

    Simon Fujiwara at Contemporary Art Society, London

    Simon Fujiwara / Contemporary Art Society, London
    January 29 - March 28, 2014

    Simon Fujiwara’s Rebekkah was recently purchased for Leeds Art Gallery through the Contemporary Art Society Collections Committee. Established in 2012, the committee selects and buys works by early and mid-career artists to gift to regional museums across the UK.

    Rebekkah is inspired by a 16 year old girl from Hackney, Rebekkah, who was one of the protagonists of the 2011 London Riots. Rebekkah was asked by Fujiwara to travel to China to take part in a unique social experiment, where her access to social media was restricted and she visited factories manufacturing the objects she aspired to own and took for granted (fashion clothing, mobile phones, flat-screen TVs). The trip culminated with a viewing of the Terracotta Army, after which Rebekkah was taken to a factory where casts were made of her body to be assembled into modern day versions of the warriors. Up to 100 figures were created in this assembly line technique, shifting Rebekkah to a new position: a representative of a new breed of British-born warrior and a soldier for social change. A selection of the figures will be on display at the Contemporary Art Society, with an accompanying video.

    Established in 2012, the Contemporary Art Society Collections Committee selects and buys works by early and mid-career artists to gift to regional museums across the UK and is a vital part of our philanthropic work. The committee is chaired by Trustee and well-known collector, Cathy Wills. Leeds Art Gallery was selected to receive the work due to the museum’s extensive and important sculpture collection. Rebekkah feeds into existing narratives within the collections at Leeds and helps to chart the development of life-size figure sculpture and portrait sculpture from the 19th century.

    Born in London in 1982, Simon Fujiwara spent his childhood between Japan, England, Spain and Africa. In January 2012, Tate St Ives hosted his first major solo survey exhibition, Since 1982, which was held in his hometown of St Ives and featured six of his key autobiographically charged installations. In 2011, Berlin’s Hebbel am Ufer theatre showed his first theatre work, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which incorporated three of his acclaimed performances into a full three-act play which subsequently toured to New York’s Performa 11 Biennale and San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art. His works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions around the world including Toronto’s Power Plant, New York’s MoMA, Artonje Centre, Seoul, and Tokyo’s Museum of Contemporary Art and at the Venice Biennale, Sao Paulo Biennale and Shanghai Biennale. His installations are in museums and foundation collections including the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Prada Foundation, Milan and the Tate collection, London. In 2010 he was awarded the prestigious Baloise-Art Prize at Art Basel and the Cartier Award at Frieze Art Fair. He has published two artist’s books, The Museum of Incest and 1982. (via)

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  • Gareth Mason: More is more / Jason Jacques Gallery, New York
    January 22 - February 22, 2014

    © Images Courtesy of Jason Jacques Inc.

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  • Ceramics Now Magazine announces open Call for Papers (Issue 3)

    Ceramics Now Magazine announces open Call for Papers, Issue 3

    Ceramics Now Magazine is pleased to announce an open Call for Papers, for consideration in Issue 3
    Deadline for submissions: March 7, 2014

    We welcome contemporary ceramics-related research papers that are lively and engaged with current ideas and debates. The call for papers is open to any author, and any original text involving ceramic art criticism, history or theory will be considered for publication. We would also welcome all submissions that enter the following categories: exhibition, book or project reviews, and conversations.

    Submissions (.docx or .doc files) should be emailed to Vasi Hirdo, Editor-in-Chief, at vasi@ceramicsnow.org
    Also include your CV and a brief biography.

    Accepted articles will be published in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue 3. All credit will be given to the writers, and the articles will be promoted to our readers through Ceramics Now’s website and social media pages. Please note that publishing with Ceramics Now is done on a voluntary basis and will not be remunerated.

    Image © Arina Ailincai


  • David Hicks: Nucleus / Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Washington DC
    January 10 – February 28, 2014

    Sculpture photographs Courtesy the artist and Cross MacKenzie Gallery.
    Installation photos by Maxwell MacKenzie.

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  • Living Glass / Musée de design et d’arts appliqués contemporains, Lausanne, Switzerland
    December 11, 2013 - November 16, 2014

    Images © Arnaud Conne, Marie Humair – atelier de numérisation de la Ville de Lausanne.

    > More exhibitions / View the list of exhibitions


  • Arlene Shechet: Meissen Recast / RISD Museum, Providence, USA
    January 17 – July 6, 2014

    © Arlene Shechet. Courtesy of the artist.
    Installation view Courtesy of the RISD Museum, Providence, RI.

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  • Tim Rowan Ceramics: Untitled #11A85 / Untitled #11A86, 2011, Wood-fired native clay, 14x26x6 / 13x22x9 inches


  • Tim Rowan:
    Untitled #12246, 2012, Wood-fired native clay, 7x15x4 inches
    Untitled #12247, 2012, Wood-fired native clay, 9x10x5 inches

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