ROUGH STUFF: A CELEBRATION OF WILD SURFACE
April 25 - May 25, 2019
The title, “ROUGH STUFF” is a deliberately ambiguous play on words. The viewer might immediately expect an exhibition of wood-fired ceramics with great accumulations of ash, imbuing the surfaces with chthonic primordial landscapes. And yes, viewers will find some of that rich technique in this exhibition, but in fact, we had something else in mind.
We live in cynical times. In cynical times the first concept to be sacrificed to the beasts of dogma is most often ‘beauty’ or ‘grace’. To us, beauty makes rough and exquisite demands that the onlookers slow down and, however briefly, give themselves up to its call. Beauty becomes a warrior in a performance reaching back to archaic times.
We want the clay to live in this exhibition. It is common to link sculpted clay to landscape, but landscape is changing all the time right in front of us, especially now. Landscape is umbilically linked to Place, and the art that Cavin-Morris Gallery shows, from Art Brut to ceramics (sculptural as well as tea and sake), to ethnographic, has always been closely tied to the myriad ideas Place awakens in the artists’ mind. That vision of place runs the gamut from untouched and euphoric to dystopian.
That is really mean by ROUGH STUFF: a celebration of wild surface. It is an exploration of the idea that never has earth, air, fire and water been more interactive with our daily lives than now.
Like the tensed horse head in Picasso’s Guernica, our earth in all its beauty and ugliness is screaming to be heard. Through the translations of visionary artists, we can always hear its real voice.
Sculptors who use clay work with the raw essence of the planet that most of us take for granted. We wanted special work for this exhibition, and we found them, created by the remarkable artists we have shown for years, and welcoming some amazing sculptors we felt would augment the vision.
We deliberately chose to emphasize the non-utilitarian aspects of their creations, with very few exceptions. The artists experiment with local clays, they display edgy aesthetics, obsessively working surfaces both in naked clay and glazed, without losing their basic respect for the clay body.
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