Courtesy the artist and Jason Jacques Inc.
Alexis Rago: Chaos Contained / Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, UK
January 7 - March 1, 2014
The National Centre for Craft & Design confirms that Alexis Rago: Chaos Contained will begin its life as a touring show in Farnham. Originally curated by Laura Mabbutt for the NCCD, the exhibition opens at the Crafts Study Centre on 7 January 2014 continuing until 1 March. Touring Manager, Liz Cooper says “During its 70 day run at NCCD, over 4,600 people of all ages viewed Chaos Contained, making it one of the most successful exhibitions we have held in our Roof Gallery. We hope to repeat that success in Farnham.”
Alexis Rago worked as a biologist and his artwork is inspired by the Cambrian explosion, when diverse life forms rapidly evolved. He hand crafts his sculptures, allowing them to take shape while he works, and incorporating the imperfections characteristic of work created by the human hand. For Chaos Contained, Rago created brand new, technically challenging, large scale ceramic works,with integrated media, such as digital sound and projected imagery. Avideo of Rago describing the work as he createdit explains his thoughts, creative processes and techniques.
The exhibition has received critical acclaim, with the New Scientist describing it as “Beautiful Biology, pure fantasy, a collection of intricate, totem-like clay sculptures that look as if they are made from natural organisms”. Elements from the exhibition formed a key part of the Frequency Digital Festival, which took place in Lincoln in October 2013.
Public praise for Chaos Contained, captured in the gallery comment book, includes “serene, elegant, fascinating and wonderful”, “Beautiful, life-affirming – a delight”, and “Superb! Biologist myself – love the forms”. It has inspired art students to take up clay work and children to complete wonderment: “antastic, my little girl was mesmerised and spent time considering how they [the forms] stand up, she is only seven”.
The National Centre for Craft & Design is a unique and ambitious gallery that seeks to exhibit the most innovative, challenging and accomplished artists practicing within the craft and design arena today. Under one roof, the NCCD has five galleries dedicated to the exhibition, celebration and promotion of national and international craft and design. The NCCD is committed to creating exhibitions that can be seen by as many people as possible. Through its touring programme, the NCCD works with some of the UK’s leading galleries and museums.
Susanne Silvertant / Terra Delft Gallery, Delft, the Netherlands
November 30 - December 31, 2013
Connection is one of the most important themes of Susanne Silvertant’s work. Art is a language for her. With her art she tries to communicate and show who she is. This vision is enhanced by scratching signs in some of her pieces. Signs refer to language that cannot be understood instantly. This is the most intense way of expressing herself.
Inspiration she gets in the beauty of rugged nature, a garden, a landscape or the structure, atmosphere and colour of a city. During her travels in Spain and Portugal, Susanne was inspired by in the architecture of ancient civilizations, translating it into her own free way into contemporary and personal designs. In her pieces, Susanne tries to reproduce this layeredness and erosion caused by the passage of time.
Susanne has restricted herself to the raku technique. Since then, this has determined the character of her work to a great extent. Besides her characteristic box shapes, she also makes objects constructed from separate parts. If an object consists of several parts, these must all come out of the kiln intact. If one part breaks, the entire object must be made all over again. Risk, unpredictability and chance are very close in Susanne’s work.
From 2007 onwards she has added sparkling elements of self-cast glass. The clay seems to form itself around the glass. Weathered glass, found along the coastline, served as the inspiration for this development. By melting the glass in fine sand, Susanne succeeds in approximating this weathered look very closely.
The combination of ceramics with copper foil or wire cast in glass, resulting in a visual continuity of the separate elements, enhances the layeredness of her pieces. She adds details from nature to her pieces, for instance a twig, a bud or a beautifully weathered tree trunk, imprinting it into porcelain or glass and incorporating it in her pieces. This way she emphasizes the organic nature of her work.
Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 11.00 - 18.00; Saturday, 11.00 - 17.00.
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.