"Snow White" Group Show - January 2010
January 15th - March 5th, 2010
“SNOW WHITE” The absence of color in the ceramics of Christa Assad, Charles Birnbaum, Jean-Marie Grenier, Jeff Irwin, and Maren Kloppmann,
This winter we are pleased to present an exhibition of white ceramic sculpture by five exceptional artists whose work is defined by their absence of color. United by their use of a pure, snow-white clay body, these artists create unique expressions with different techniques and subjects. The plasticity of clay and its power to assume any shape and mimic any material is demonstrated in this collection. Whiteness reflects and delicately modulates the light, sometimes having the luminosity of marble or the transparency of fabric. In each sculpture, the monochromatic limitation is applied to dramatic effect.
Charles Birnbaum’s elaborate, baroque work is aptly described as “an orgy of form” by art historian Suzanne Ramljak. His abstract organic sculptures reference all manner of sea creatures, corals and carnivorous plants that threaten to continue growing off the gallery walls. These porcelain pieces contradict the concept of ’less is more’ with their extravagant, intricately carved surfaces and subtle shadows. White is used as a unifying palette.
Contrast these expressions of abundance with Maren Kloppmann’s quiet, stacked pillow piece that uses the white clay body’s sensory deprivation, to beckon the peaceful escape of sleep and its promise of relief. In another color, those pillows might signify some erotic experience or exotic locale, but in white, one imagines the innocence and deep sleep of childhood. Stacked like mattresses searching for more and more comfort, the pillows float like clouds above that symbolic pea of unrest. The spacing and scale of Kloppmann’s stacked pillows pays homage to Donald Judd’s boxes whose pure geometry delivers a similar calm. Kloppmann’s use of pure white underscores the minimalist reference and delivers us tranquility.
Jeff Irwin creates enigmatic white creatures that exist in a surreal space between men’s hunting trophies and trees headed for the woodsmen’s chainsaw. These sculptures ask questions: Why don’t we value the whole living creature? Why does an animal head proffer prestige when stuffed and hung on the wall? Why is a carved piece of wood indoors valued more than it is in the forest? By making his enigmatic creatures in ghostly white, they take on an abstract quality, ethereal and otherworldly, yet at the same time, they recall traditional marble sculpture. Ragged edges from the saw blade and wooden knots are left un-smoothed on the clay surface. Irwin delights in the clashes of imagery and materials within his menagerie of stuffed imaginary trophies.
Jean-Marie Grenier’s swirling helix forms in white appear to be the expression of dance movements made physical. They carve and energize the space.
The pristine white geometric ceramics of Christa Assad use the lack of color in the clay body to highlight their clean architectural outlines. Assad’s functional vessels act like miniature buildings with perfectly modeled brick facades wrapped around their pure forms and whose waterspouts resemble chimneystacks.
At this time of year when so much of the world is blanketed by snowfall, the sculptures in this exhibition celebrate the quiet beauty of snow white and capture its simple, pure power.