Gerald Peters has corralled scholar, historian and noted critic, Garth Clark, to curate VASA VASORUM | The Vase in Contemporary Art + Design, a group exhibition with over 30 artists from seven countries, each analyzing and reinventing the vase with surprising conclusions. The exhibition opens at Peters Projects, Friday, June 8, 5-7pm.
As Garth Clark explains: “Vasa Vasorum is a play on words. In direct Latin translation it means ‘the vessels of the vessels’ and was coopted by the medical profession to describe a network of blood vessels that supply the walls of larger blood vessels, such as an aorta or any large veins like a venae cavae. Vasa Vasorum is also the perfect title for the vast group show of vases by over 30 international artists.”
One can be excused for being underwhelmed. A vase show? Really? Isn’t that the ultimate cliché? Isn’t the vase the most ubiquitous decorative vessel? Yes, but its banality is its power and reach, a source of endless metaphor and conceptual play.
Clark examines the form in an expanded context and begins with the expensive vase as a trophy, suggesting wealth, prestige and taste. In 18th century France owning a Sevres garniture set, a group of three to nine porcelain vases set above the fireplace, often filled with porcelain flowers to boot, bought one influence with the King as the factory was a Royal enterprise.
The exhibition also explores the role of the vase as an anchor object in still-life situs and the fragility and worth as an heirloom or an antique treasure (a vase from the Early Imperial kiln in China can set you back more than $38 Million). In turn damaging such an icon opens the theme of anxiety and destruction into the show, something Ai Weiwei used to such powerful effect with his triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.
Navajo Artist Christine Nofchissey McHorse has created a thrilling three lobed vase in her inimitable style. Canadian Artist Laurent Craste attacks the vase form, a metaphor for the human figure, whacks it with a baseball bat, stabs it in the back with scissors or uses darts to turn into a latter-day St Francis.
Anne Marie Laureys from Belgium has created soft vases that appear to be underwater coral creatures. American Janice Jakielski makes porcelain books into paper vases in a Sevres porcelain theme. The inimitable Jeff Koons Split Rocker Vase in bisque porcelain gives a sculptural Pop presence, and The Haas Brothers bring in the erotic with their phallic “Accretions” vases. Bouke de Vries trained as a restorer in Holland and never touches clay in his art as he makes restructured assemblages of found vases and other forms.
Chris Wight from England is perhaps the most extraordinary technically speaking, a suite of eight vases that pay homage to the most famous vase in the world, the Portland Vase, a Roman antiquity made even more famous by Josiah Wedgwood when he copied it in Jasper Ware, issuing the first modern limited edition ceramic in the world. Wight’s vases are assembled like 3-D drawings. The components are cut from sheets of bone china with a computer controlled water saw. What this reveals is the Portland Vase’s architecture, like a building with its structural metal frame in place. This is the first time the entire series of eight vases has been exhibited together.
American superstar Peter Pincus has created a pair of diptychs and a beautiful set of 5 colored vases from the field’s greatest and most hedonistic colorist. His work is precision painted inside the mold which then attaches itself to a slip cast vessel. Del Harrow from Colorado uses a digital format to establish the foundation of his vases but then ingeniously realizes them in analog technology.
Artists in the exhibition include: Stuart Asprey, Joan Bankemper, Laurent Craste, Bouke de Vries, Kim Dickey, Chris Gustin, The Haas Brothers, Del Harrow, Molly Hatch, Doug Herren, King Houndenkpinkou, Janice Jakielski, Martin Klimas, Jeff Koons, Jami Porter Lara, Anne Marie Laureys, Steven Lee, Robert Mapplethorpe, Tony Marsh, Christine Nofchissey McHorse, Steven Montgomery, Gustavo Pérez, Peter Pincus, Ken Price, Ettore Sottsass, Dirk Staschke, Cammie Storos, Akio Takamori, Chris Wight, Betty Woodman, Tetsuya Yamada and Eric Zetterquist. Work will be added and changed throughout the run of the exhibition.
Not to be missed, the exhibition runs from June 8 – September 29, 2018.
Download the digital catalog here.
For inquiries, please contact Mark Del Vecchio, Program Director of Ceramics & Design,