George Sherman: On Fire is on view at Marta, Los Angeles
January 6 – February 17, 2024
Marta is delighted to announce On Fire, an exhibition of new works by Pasadena-based master ceramicist George Sherman. With soft reference to the forms and linguistic play first presented in FOX, BOBCAT, BEAR (2022), the artist has composed a body of work that reflects both the scale of his environment—Sherman lives and works in the dramatic foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains—and the boundaries of his monumental, yet enticingly delicate, applications of clay.
By virtue of process, the ceramicist must think in terms of iteration; the production of related pairs or multiples to safeguard against failure. It is this submission to materiality, to the capriciousness of clay, that facilitates choice—a path between variations in color, texture, and form that branch out with the flexing curvatures of an old-growth tree. It is these curves, their expressive arcs and degrees of motion, that lead the viewer into Sherman’s work and bring us, maze-like, through its manifold narratives. They are the sinuous bodies of snakes; the cerulean ripples—constructed as concentric circles—that orbit the pillowy splash from an invisible diver; the harmonious ‘O’ in CROW(N) that letters a scow. Each of these forms—reflective of both the artist’s place of residence, situated within a Wildland-Urban Interface designation, and his upbringing as a self-described ‘Navy Brat’—interweave environment with experience, history with memory, and reiterate Sherman’s technical capacity to render the grandeurs, both great and small, of the organic world.
Anchoring the show’s larger works, located in the gallery’s primary exhibition space, are a series of trays and cups. These functional foils, dispersed between the main- and ante-rooms, are solid canvases for the artist’s eloquent renderings of dogs, cacti, and mountainscapes, alongside the ram’s head of Georgia O’Keeffe, the Campbell’s Soup can of Andy Warhol, and the 90° angles of Frank Stella—three of the nine mugs that comprise the series First Name Basis, which pays homage to a selection of lauded twentieth-century American artists. The subtle breadth of the exhibition, scaled from palm to peak, is a reminder of Sherman’s curriculum vitae—his course of life, which like a climber’s ascent, moves eternal with hand to earth.
George Sherman (b. 1945, San Diego) is a Pasadena-based ceramic artist. A long-time studio tech and professor (ret. 2018) at CSU, USC, and Scripps College, Sherman is a torch-bearer of and for the California Clay Movement, having been a pupil of Philip Cornelius at Pasadena City College in the late 1960s, and of John Mason at UC Irvine in the early 1970s. This is the artist’s third-ever solo exhibition, and his second with the gallery.
3021 Rowena Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Photos by Erik Benjamins