By Heather Palmer.
The ceramic presence at the Design Miami/ show this year confirmed that (love it or hate it) the “trend” of ceramics is still here. Certain markets appear saturated with ceramic work that feels, at times, too similar. But outside of the wabi-wabi pots and perfectly covetable mugs that we can’t get enough of (or have had enough of) there is work being made at a different level for a different market where fine art, design, and craft intersect. Ceramics once lived most comfortably in the world of craft but now looks comfortable everywhere it goes. I had the luck to see some of this work last month at the Design Miami/ show.
Once a year during the first week of December, Miami becomes a giant trade show for art. Hundreds and hundreds of galleries set up booths in fairs throughout the city. The radius of this art fair is massive and difficult to understand without being there. Art Basel, the main fair, is located in the Miami Convention Center and gets filled to capacity with close to 300 booths of art galleries. In addition to that main fair, there are around 20 other satellite fairs throughout the city, plus scattered shows and events. There is undoubtedly a lot of work to see.
With my personal focus on design, I headed for the Design Miami/ show as fast as I could. Compared to a lot of the fine art-focused booths, the work at the design show stood out to me for its level of craftsmanship. Ceramic work owned a lot of square footage at this show and it was difficult to ignore this theme.
The caliber of the ceramic work shown proved to my mind that what we’ve been calling a ceramic trend is maturing into something wonderful and substantial. The ceramic work at Design Miami/ showed inspired mastery of the material.
Here are some of those highlights:
Lee Hun Chung was represented by Seomi International out of Los Angeles. Making large tables and benches out of ceramic, Chung manages to create a soft, warm feeling despite the hardness of the material. The shapes and the glaze work together to make the pieces appear pillowy, while their size and apparent weight are still felt. The contrast of these large, heavy objects with their soft and sensual surface treatment proves that the artist has clearly had a long relationship with the material.
Jang Jin was also represented by Seomi International. In contrast to Lee Hun Chung’s work, hers is light and delicate. Using a small scale with quiet colors and touches of gold, Jin’s work invites you to get close and slow down to the soft cadence of each object. It is beautiful and elegant work that quietly tells a story of femininity and grace.
Thomas Fritsch – Artrium out of Paris dedicated their booth to a history of French ceramic master pieces from 1945–1970. While ceramic work has been considered a trend in recent years, this gorgeous display was a reminder that clay has been going strong for a long time. The distinguished collection of work showed classic shapes plus sculptural works and vessels.
Eric Serritella was represented by Jason Jacques Inc. The booth was set up like a little treehouse—a treehouse made by an alchemist who turns clay into wood. Serritella works in the trompe l’oeil style, and true to that, his work does deceive the eye. The trees shown at the design show are so realistic that it takes a second for your brain to catch up to what it is seeing. Not only is the work masterful at deception, it is beautiful in its form and movement.
Cody Hoyt was shown at the Patrick Parrish booth. The booth was rightfully crowded and hard to get into, but worth the effort to discover Cody Hoyt’s work. The shapes of the pieces shown were clean and strong with that same effect on the surface patterns. The angular shapes defy gravity and seem caught in the middle of unfolding their impossible angles.
With the abundance of noteworthy work at Design Miami/, the focus on ceramic work may be narrow, but for me, the theme’s thread throughout the fair was just too strong to ignore at this year’s show.
Design Miami/ Website: miami2015.designmiami.com