The excitement of seeing ceramic works by four artists at Cherry and Martin’s project space, 2732, is similar to discovering new species at a botanical garden. Spinning clays from its 30,000 year old tradition, Katy Cowan, Takuro Kuwata, William O’Brien, and Adam Silverman slap together possibilities to suggest new visual vocabularies.
Kuwata’s blown (using Japanese firing technique called Ishihaze, meaning stone explosion) blobby masses are animated explosions suspended in time. Bubble gum colors glaze over the aftermath, making it simultaneously grotesque yet delightful. The two juxtaposed next to each other appear to be a scatological Claus Oldenburg conversing with a haphazard Yayoi Kusama, while the third, a plump Lynda Bengalis, looks at the two from a distance.
Equally free-spirited in their exploratory shape are O’Brien’s modest scale glazed ceramics. The exception is the taller totem pole, made with six stacked vases sandwiching three bases. Collectively, the works share the gnarly nuttiness of Ron Nagle’s intimate objects. Unlike his meticulous surfaces, however, O’Brien’s exude rawness — something far deeper in the soil than Nagle’s precious finish.
The versatility of the finish is present in Adam Silverman’s cocoon shapes. There is a sense that something fantastical is about to bloom from each of his enveloping oblongs. These large buds also look like cacti and mushrooms (especially the ones soaked in Yves Klein blue), which may be the reason why the exhibition feels like a field trip to a botanical garden.
In contrast to Silverman and others, Cowan’s series of small cast tools connected by ropes bring subtle intimacy to the mix. Though rooted in the same material convention, these utensils hang quietly on the wall in their soft pastels and primary colors. Nonetheless, the vertically and diagonally installed instruments stand almost as tall as Silverman’s totem pole, asserting their presence.
In Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better., each work is a unique specimen speaking a peculiar language — all pleasurable without fail. What has come before does not constrain, it opens up the possibilities.
Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better. is on view through October 10, 2015 at Cherry and Martin 2732 in Culver City.
All images courtesy of Cherry and Martin. Photos by Brian Forrest.