cerámica contemporánea

ammann//gallery is thrilled to present cerámica contemporánea, an exhibition focusing on works by mexican-based artist abel zavala .

zavala’s architectural wall installations are accompanied by pieces from the gallery’s ceramic collection by international artists barnaby barford, danful yang, satyendra pakhalé and italian masters alessandro mendini and ettore sottsass.

© Abel Zavala White Genesis Detail courtesy ammann gallery
© Abel Zavala Genesis Spores and Marc Newson Wicker Chair courtesy ammann gallery
© Abel Zavala Epiphytes Wall Installation courtesy ammann gallery
abel zavala

mexican artist abel zavala is among a generation of younger artists who have embraced traditional ceramics in xalapa, veracruz, mexico. he received the fonca young creative scholarship in design in 2020-2021, 2016-2017, and 2011-2012. zavala won third place in the 8th franz meyer biennial for utility ceramics, and his work is included in the franz meyer museum, mexico city and the mexican national printing museum collections.

zavala bases his practice on traditional techniques while drawing inspiration from the rich forest in his hometown, xalapa. he is known for accentuating the texture and feel of the materials while conveying the movements and forms of nature and allowing a reflection on the behaviour of living beings and their coexistence. on display are four unique wall installations by the artist, showcasing pieces from the epiphytes, genesis and larvae series.

Abel Zavala Portrait Studio

epiphytes wall sculptures

the epiphytes series is inspired, as the name suggests, by epiphytes, which are plants or plant-like organisms that coexist harmoniously on the surface of other plants without causing harm to the host. they use the host, also called photophyte, only as structural support and derive moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water and debris accumulated around them. zavala crafted individual white and black ceramic sculptures that add texture to the wall and create an ambience that blends in with its surroundings but simultaneously surprises the viewer by uncovering unexpected textures and materials.

petrified epiphytes wall sculptures

apart from the purely white or black epiphytes, zavala also created the petrified epiphytes made with the rakú process, a japanese firing technique that creates a unique finish to wares. the porcelain objects are covered in a liquid layer of mud and enamel, forming a shell that cracks by manipulating the temperature around it. applying natural materials such as dry leaves or wood showing creates smoke that enters through the cracks of the shell, composing unique patterns on the pieces.

genesis wall sculptures

the genesis series series is the artist’s homage to sporogenesis, the process of spore formation. spores are bodies formed for dispersal purposes; they fly and give rise to a new plant when deposited in a place with good conditions. zavala particularly noted the light and translucent nature of spores. to imitate this characteristic with a solid material such as ceramics, the artist made each piece with thin mud sheets and hundreds of perforations done by hand, giving the illusion of the ceramic piece becoming more translucent.

larvae wall sculptures

zavala’s larvae series is inspired by larve, the juvenile forms of animals before they undergo metamorphosis into adults. the longitudinal shape created with clay is perforated to create different textures. complimenting these wall pieces is the open larve bowl, which moves between the functional and the sculptural. its ambiguity is sought in form and function; they are undefined objects that could be an abandoned cocoon or a leaf found on the forest floor in zavala’s hometown, xalapa.

open larvae bowl

© Abel Zavala 'Open Larvae' courtesy ammann//gallery

year: 2022
material: porcelain
measurements: 68 x 12 x 8 cm

golden leaf bowl

© Abel Zavala 'Golden Leaf Bowl' courtesy ammann//gallery

year: 2017
material: high temperature ceramic
measurements: 70 x 26 x 11 cm

satyendra pakhalé

india-born designer satyendra pakhalé explores the relationship between the industrial and the handmade. pakhalé’s works are part of significant museum collections, including the v&a museum in london, the centre pompidou in paris and the cologne museum of applied arts.

the flower offering chair series by satyendra pakhalé is one of his most iconic works. he explains: „in this project, the object is not about sitting itself as a utilitarian need; it’s the whole notion of sitting and welcoming people, symbolically offering flowers. that is how the flower offering chair was born.“

pakhalé trained in india and switzerland and is active in the fields of design, art, and architecture. his design goes beyond binaries like high-tech and low-tech, industrial production and traditional crafts, functionality and poetic significance. the flower offering chair terra-sigillata ceramic is a unique piece in the series and showcases traditional craftsmanship while reminding of nature with its rough surface and earth tone colour.

barnaby barford

british artist barnaby barford is widely recognised for his sculptural work using industrially made ceramics in unexpected ways. his work is part of important collections worldwide, including the v&a museum in london, the museum of fine art in houston, texas, and the national libraries of france and the netherlands.

the tottenham and croyden fox series explores the city’s effects on local wildlife, highlighting the conflict between nature and human settlements. as one of britain’s apex predators, foxes are crafty animals who have been depicted as cunning animals in folklore and modern storytelling. on the contrary, when placed in an urban environment, the imagery suddenly changes to that of a scavenger.

the tottenham fox cub sculpture seems to disarm with its perceived characteristics of a fluffy fox with pointy ears and padding paws; however, the individual ceramic flowers and leaves feature shocking images of the 2011 london riots. barford compares the city foxes forced struggle with societal and economic pressures people face in london.

danful yang

chinese artist danful yang creates whimsical and visually dynamic works by reimagining ancient chinese art and craft processes with materials from the modern West. yang’s work is part of the montreal museum of fine arts collection.

danful yang’s porcelain unicorns girly, daydream and glasses explore chinese traditional craftsmanship, philosophy and family dynamics. the girly – plum blossom ceramic sculpture displayed in the exhibition is from the girly series, which focuses on four distinct flowers: orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum and plum blossom, also referred to as the four gentlemen in traditional chinese iconography.

each flower addresses a particular quality encapsulated by the model chinese individual. while the orchid symbolises elegance and decorum, bamboo indicates honesty and modesty, chrysanthemums stand for moral integrity, and plum blossoms embody resilience and strength of character.

© ammann // gallery 2024

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