Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art

Hayward Gallery
26 October 2022 – 8 January 2023

Another unmissable exhibition in London’s art scene has caught many people’s attention and has been highly acclaimed by critics this year. Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art at the Hayward Gallery is the first large-scale group exhibition in the UK to explore how contemporary artists have used the medium of clay in innovative ways.

Strange Clay is highly relevant in today’s art scene as we see an increasing interest in ceramics by artists around the world, and people who enjoy sculpting clay as a hobby. The artworks on show include fantastical creatures and uncanny representations of everyday objects, as well as small abstract works and large-scale installations. They vary in scale, finish and technique, and address topics such as architecture, social justice, the political, the body, the domestic and the organic. The exhibition features 23 artists from different countries and generations, from ceramic legends to new-generation artists pushing the boundaries of ceramics today, including Betty Woodman, Beate Kuhn, Ron Nagle, Ken Price, Woody De Othello, and David Zink Yi, among others.

Although the artworks on display are different in many ways, all artists share the celebration of the versatility and possibilities of ceramics. Dr Cliff Lauson, Curator of this exhibition, says: “Strange Clay brings together some of the most exciting artists working in ceramics in recent years. Using innovative methods and techniques, they push the medium to its physical and conceptual limits, producing imaginative artworks that surprise and provoke in equal measure.

Some must-see artworks include David Zink Yi’s giant ceramic squid spreading across the floor of the gallery, Untitled (Architeuthis) (2010). It is almost five metres in length and lying in a pool of its own ‘ink’. To achieve the squid’s slick-looking flesh, Zink Yi glazed the piece with a mix of different oxides, earth and minerals in what he calls a ‘quasi-a chemical process’. The artist explores the relationship between mythmaking and the construction of identity, inspired by his fascination with the extreme biological differences between humans and squids. This artwork evokes realms of myth and alchemy and reflects on the fragile boundaries between sea and land, familiar and strange, life and death.

Other fantastical creatures can be seen in the botanical installation by Klara Kristalova. Here we are surrounded by plants and ceramic sculptures. Roots, moss, grass and branches resemble the woodland setting of fairy tales, as well as the forest surrounding the artist’s studio in Sweden. Moreover, Woody De Othello’s surreal clay sculptures modify the shapes of everyday household objects into oversized, twisted and sometimes humanlike forms. Othello reimagines the mundane with a humorous twist while offering a reflection on society and race.

Liu Jianhua’s Regular/Fragile has also stopped many visitors on their tracks. This installation comprises nearly a thousand individual elements, covering the walls and floor with mundane objects made with white porcelain, including toys, household goods and clothing from Liu Jianhua’s family and friends. Although they might appear uniform at first glance, each is subtly different, as the artist kept cracks, fingerprints and other imperfections that emerged during the production process. Liu created Regular/Fragile in response to a series of aviation disasters that occurred in China in 2001. During those events, one of the fatalities was a young boy whose toys were left floating in the ocean after a plane crash. These devastating events occurred when Liu’s young son was receiving hospital care, inspiring the artist to use porcelain’s innate fragility to reflect on the vulnerability and value of human life and the distracting effects of consumerism.

Strange Clay is an ambitious and successful exhibition which explores the plasticity and potential of ceramics in contemporary art and also contributes to the expanding dialogue between art and craft. These artworks undoubtedly delight all ceramics aficionados, and even if you didn’t think ceramic art was your thing, Strange Clay is an exhibition that will make you reconsider it.


2022 年 10 月 26 日 – 2023 年 1 月 8 日


隨著世界各地的藝術家對陶瓷的興趣越來越大,並且人們將粘土雕刻作為一種愛好,這個「奇怪的粘土」展覽正好反映了這一切。該展覽展出的藝術品包括奇幻生物和日常物品的詭異呈現,有小型抽像作品也有大型裝置。作品的規模、飾面和技術各不相同,涉及的主題也相當廣泛,包括建築、社會正義、政治、身體、家庭和有機個體。展覽匯集了23位來自不同國家和時代的藝術家,從陶瓷傳奇藝術家到當今拓展陶瓷界限的新生代藝術家,如: Betty Woodman、Beate Kuhn、Ron Nagle、Ken Price、Woody De Othello 和 David Zink Yi 等 。

儘管展出的藝術品在很多方面各不相同,但所有藝術家都分享了對陶瓷的多功能性和可能性的探索,本次展覽的策展人Cliff Lauson博士說道:“「奇怪的粘土」匯集了許多近年來陶瓷領域中最令人興奮的藝術家。他們使用創新的方法和技術,突破陶瓷其物理和概念的極限,創作出富有想像力的藝術作品,這些作品令人驚訝和激動。 ”

展覽中不可錯過的作品包括大衛·辛克·伊 (David Zink Yi) 的作品《無題 (Architeuthis) (2010)》,長約五米的巨型陶瓷魷魚“躺”在畫廊的地板上,身體周圍還有“墨水”。為了使魷魚的表面看起來更光滑,Zink Yi在他稱之為“準化學過程”的製作過程中用了不同的氧化物、泥土和礦物質給這件作品上釉。藝術家的靈感來自於他對人類和烏賊之間極端生物學差異的迷戀,Zink Yi探索了神話創造與身份建構之間的關係,以及海洋與陸地、熟悉與陌生、生與死之間脆弱的界限。

另一個展廳裡, Klara Kristalova 的大型植物裝置展現了各種奇幻生物。在這裡,觀者被植物和陶瓷雕塑所包圍。根莖、苔蘚、草叢和樹枝打造了童話故事中的林地場景,同時模擬了藝術家在瑞典工作室周圍的森林。此外,Woody De Othello 超現實主義的泥塑將日常家居用品的形狀改為超大型的、扭曲的,有時甚至像人的形狀。Othello以幽默的方式重新構想了平凡的事物,同時對社會和種族進行了反思。

劉建華的作品《常規/脆弱(Regular/Fragile)》也讓不少觀眾停下腳步。這個裝置由近千個獨立單品組成,牆壁和地板上鋪滿了白瓷製成的日常用品品,包括劉建華家人和朋友的玩具、家居用品和衣物。雖然乍一看它們可能看起來都是一樣的,但仔細看便能發現每一個都略有不同,因為藝術家保留了生產過程中出現的裂縫、指紋和其他缺陷。藝術家為 2001 年在中國發生的一系列空難而創作了這件作品《Regular/Fragile》。在那些空難事件裡,其中一名遇難者是一名小男孩,他的玩具在飛機失事後漂浮在海中。這些毀滅性的事件發生在藝術家小兒子住院期間,從而啟發了藝術家使用瓷器與生俱來的脆弱性來反思人類生命的脆弱和價值,以及消費主義帶來的影響。



Edited x 编辑 Victoria Huang 黄婧


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