Brian Molanphy: Silent Partner is on view at Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
July 22 – August 15, 2021
The Nasher Sculpture Center presents an exhibition for Nasher Public in the Nasher Store gallery: Brian Molanphy’s Silent Partner.
Artist Brian Molanphy has been working primarily in ceramics throughout his two-decade career, but the issues that he explores through this material are the conceptual and physical concerns of sculpture. For his Nasher Public installation, titled Silent Partner, Molanphy brings together a variety of series of ceramics made over the past eight years in an innovative installation that occupies the floor and the wall—territory not typically associated with presentations of ceramics—examining the varied ways one defines space, both within the ceramics themselves as well as the space of the gallery. Molanphy will make drawings on the glass façade of the gallery on July 24 and August 7, further mediating and changing the visitor’s experience of the space.
Silent Partner chronicles Molanphy’s deep consideration of ceramics’ dual roles as functional object and metaphorical carrier of meaning. The forms he creates at times recall traditional clay objects such as vessels, basins, and tiles, but are often presented in ways that deny their potential utility and highlights their abstract, poetic, and conceptual considerations. In a different orientation, the works braceros and sink could be decorative vases but, mounted to the wall, they become deep chasms with darkened interiors, beautiful yet vaguely menacing. Placing ceramic objects on the floor marks the space of the gallery and expands the visual field of the installation; it also overturns one’s normal relationship to these objects, putting the delicate works in the perilous position at the viewers’ feet. The body is always implied in ceramics—both the body of the artist in the shaping of the material and the visitor’s experience of the finished work. With ceramics, one expects to handle it, feel it, turn it over, like a cup in a hand. Molanphy’s work plays with this tactility and the expectation of a direct relationship to the body, highlighting that expectation by denying it through its unusual placement in the viewer’s space and impelling us to rethink our relation to these objects.
Molanphy’s work draws on a myriad of sources, from ceramic traditions around the world to artistic predecessors like Eva Hesse and Lee Bontecou, as well as contemporary colleagues such as Cameron Schoepp, and Mary Vernon. His highly conceptual practice also explores ideas introduced by a range of philosophers, poets, and academics including Marcel Proust, W. S. Merwin, and Charles Wright. The title of the installation, Silent Partner, refers to an essay by Catarina Roma which posits the void, contained within the vessel and surrounding it, as the “silent partner” of the ceramist.
Brian Molanphy is an artist, teacher, and writer based in Dallas. He received his BA in Art from Colorado College and MFA in Ceramics from Pennsylvania State University. He received a Fulbright grant to study at the National Manufactory of Sèvres, France, and was a Fellow of the Camargo Foundation in Cassis and of the Brown Foundation in Ménerbes. He is an elected member of the International Academy of Ceramics. Molanphy has been featured in numerous solo and group presentations throughout the United States, as well as in France, Canada, China, Korea, and Taiwan. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Art at the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.
About Nasher Public | Nasher Public is an ongoing, two-pronged public art initiative which aims to generate access to public art by North Texas artists at the Nasher and throughout the greater Dallas community. The project will launch first at the Nasher in a newly formed gallery, presenting monthly exhibitions over the next year, followed by an ongoing series of off-site exhibitions in partnership with area businesses. The new gallery, formerly occupied by the Nasher Store, fronts Flora Street and is directly accessible from the Nasher’s entrance foyer. For the duration of the project, the space will be open to the public free of charge during the museum’s public hours, and viewable through the windows during off hours.
About Nasher Sculpture Center | Located in the heart of the Dallas Arts District, the Nasher Sculpture Center is home to the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, one of the finest collections of modern and contemporary sculpture in the world, featuring more than 300 masterpieces by Calder, de Kooning, di Suvero, Giacometti, Gormley, Hepworth, Kelly, Matisse, Miró, Moore, Picasso, Rodin, Serra, and Shapiro, among others.
Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, TX 75201