Michael Fujita - September 2011
We are pleased to announce the first solo artist exhibition in our new gallery location, of recent sculptural works by the Philadelphia-based ceramic artist Michael Fujita. Fujita’s work presents the viewer with a cornucopia of color and visual delight through his balancing act of bubble gum-like balls on bridges and stacked, extruded, ceramic, macaroni-like monuments. These mixed media works are full of surprising structural juxtapositions and downright delicious surfaces. The artist’s sensibility is clearly in evidence. “I have a strong commitment to both craft and beauty, firmly believing that concept and ideas travel most effectively along this path” says Fujita. Currently an artist in residence at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Fujita will be in at the gallery’s reception for the artist on September 16th 6-8pm. The exhibition will run through October 12th.
“Bridge” is a work that spans space with the ceramic ball elements supported in an arch that reaches across to the two wooden trestle-like structures holding the weight. The piece underscores – and at the same time reverses – the natural attributes of the materials of wood and clay. Clay is malleable and bendable but becomes rigid and breakable after firing. By suspending the delicate and ceramic elements, the artist makes the bridge even more dynamic by drawing one’s attention to its vulnerability. Ignoring wood’s tensile strength, it is also used as the solid support for “Field” where the multicolored ceramic balls form a suspended floating wall of riotous color. Achieving that dramatic variation of intense color and surface quality in clay is a technical challenge due to the multiple firing temperatures often required and the necessary careful control of oozing glazes. One can appreciate the fine craftsmanship displayed and the arduous, labor intensive repetition in evidence, but one can also experience and enjoy the pure visual candy. The edible metaphor is reiterated in many of the pedestal pieces as well; pixie sticks, pulled taffy and pasta are in play here and any cook will relate to the alchemy of mastering temperature and texture in the oven or in this case, the kiln. But our artist-chef hasn’t spoiled us with too much sweetness – the work is satisfying and rich in its sophisticated elegance and spare contours, original material combinations and sculptural inventiveness.