Bobby Silverman: Matter Composition is on view at Heller Gallery, New York
July 11 – September 7, 2022
Heller Gallery is delighted to present Matter Composition, its first solo exhibition of new works by American artist and designer Robert (Bobby) Silverman.
Simple shapes enrobed in glazes and paints that explode with color typify Silverman’s ceramics. His work develops from the outside in and surface quality is paramount. The form is chosen to highlight that surface.
The Matter Composition exhibition introduces Silverman’s innovative black textured glaze, compelling to both touch and the eye. The pieces are the result of continued experimentation and an example of Silverman’s keen interest in the idiosyncratic opportunities that the ceramic surface offers. He says that “the phenomena of a dimensional skin that both absorbs and reflects light simultaneously, offers fascinating opportunities to study how glaze or non-ceramic surface coatings can engage in a broader conversation about luminosity and reflection.” Silverman has also begun to incorporate ‘platforms’ in his work to extend the narrative of gravity that he addresses with glaze moving down the side of the three-dimensional forms. Having the glaze continue to the surface of the platform the object sits on extends the sculptural and surface qualities of that object and investigates how the object resides in space.
Recently he has started adding other materials such as glass, chrome, and automotive paint to complement his ceramic surfaces. It allows him to investigate the nature of ceramic materials and their phenomenological properties such as color, translucency, and its range of haptic qualities.
Aside from vessels, Silverman is also interested in the visual representation of information, specifically the interplay between text and the ceramic process. His 11-panel Sappho (2010-2022) installation is a part of this exploration. Silverman used the extant fragments and translations, presented in the 2002 interpretation of Sappho’s text by Canadian classicist and poet Anne Carson, to create a poem on glazed ceramic tile. Through the glaze application, the heat of the kiln and the forces of gravity, the poem was then further randomly edited by the firing process.
“My interest in text first developed when I was studying social geography and resulted in work I have made as an artist about the visual representation of information. Ceramic history has been tied with the earliest forms of written expression in the clay tablets in cuneiform dating back to 4,000 BC, the demon pots of Iranian and Iraqi Jews found in the 6-8th century AD and the epigraphic potter of medieval Islam. These works, particularly the epigraphic pottery, displayed text as either words or decoration, depending on the potters’ literacy skills, the calligraphers’ desire to embellish, or because the text was only a secondary component that could be recited orally. Something simultaneously narrative and decorative provides a fascinating opportunity for exploration; where semantic interchange is impossible, the beauty of the symbolic language takes precedent,”says Silverman, about the historic antecedents of his Sappho installation.
Bobby Silverman studied ceramics in the United States and Japan and earned his MFA at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY. His practice has spanned four decades, and Silverman’s works are held in numerous public collections including his alma matter, the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum in Alfred, NY as well as at the Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, MT, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ; Canton Museum of Art, Canton, OH; European Ceramic Work Center, Oisterwijk, The Netherlands; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse NY; Holter Museum of Art, Helena, MT; The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI; Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C..
Heller Gallery is the most respected US dealer specializing in contemporary glass sculpture and design. Founded in 1973 in New York, Heller provides private and institutional clients with a curated platform for studio artists whose practice is materially based and whose work broadens the horizons of contemporary culture. Numerous works have entered prestigious public collections worldwide as a direct result of our exhibitions and advocacy.
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New York, NY 10001
Photo credits: Dluxcreative