|Josh DeWeese, Baskets #1 and #4|
In ceramics, there is a continuum between functional and non-functional work, meaning the difference between things people can actually use in their everyday lives or special occasions. Josh DeWeese's smaller works, though heavily stylized, are designed and created to still be functional. On the left are two examples, "Basket #1" in the foreground, and "Basket #4" in back. They're made of wood-fired clay, with salt-soda glaze like a lot of his work.
The glazes have both overt and subtle qualities to them. Formally, they're organic and highly individuated. On the piece in front, we can see some drawn elements in the creases and a small spiral on the right side. DeWeese comes from a family of artists, a household where, as he described, everyone had their drawing notebooks, and drew frequently, and I suspect, very well. Regarding these baskets, which stand about 27" tall, they are intended to be functional as vases for flowers, though in the absence of the latter, those beautiful lyrically arcing handles complete the piece perfectly. In their formal complexity, they seem almost weightless, as if they could float away from the main of the pieces.
|Josh DeWeese, "Jar #5, 2011"|
On the larger (This jar is 25" tall) jars, like "Jar #5 2011" , the drawing is easier to see. Josh says they are views of his studio, or from his studio, so they are self-referential, scribed with images from where they were created. Imagine a human tattooed with the room or location where they were conceived. It is also an analog to a memory from the artist. Visual in more than the formal physicality of the clay and the color and form of the glazes, it reminds me of an inverse cyclorama in miniature, in this case, going well beyond the encoding of process in an artifact, to a depiction of the place where it was made. The effect is simultaneously multidimensional, one that to be appreciated, almost demands a rotating mount, something MSG has provided so the viewer can appreciate the entire piece without having to walk around it.
The jars are made in two pieces, as the artist described, "like two bowls on top of each other, then finished.
|Josh DeWeese, two jars.|
Here are two other jars. Note that the drawings being on a 360-degree round surface have no beginning or end. Note that some pieces look far more controlled than others. This is not by accident. A lot of ceramicists obsess on control, but Josh likes to introduce the spontaneity of randomness into the work. The wet-paint look and some of the drawings have influences from Abstract Expressionism, and indirectly, Peter Voulkos [Link]. The glazes can vary from the inlaid-wood look of the piece on the right above, to the riot of form and color in "Jar #5" shown earlier. Keep in mind that introducing some chaos into the glazes is a conscious decision. Josh told me to remember that with his work, "it all comes through the hands".
|Josh DeWeese, "Covered Jar #1"|
Josh reports being influenced by Asian ceramics, specifically Korean Puncheong Ware, Japanese Oribe (examples piectured above) and Shino Ware. In some pieces, this is more evident than in others.
|Josh DeWeese, "Large Platter #2"|
Josh's oeuvre involves much more than what I have delved into so far. There are large platters like this one, where the Abstract Expressionism comes through strongly.
Congratulations to Josh DeWeese and Mindy Solomon for a memorable show. A special nod to Mindy Solomon Gallery for the emphasis on first-rate ceramics. It's a great opportunity for collectors and art enthusiasts alike.
Josh DeWeese "Expressions in Form"
November 12—December 24, 2011
Ps. Don't forget to look inside the jars...
|Josh DeWeese jar, interior view|
|Mindy Solomon installation, "Two Pots"|