Featuring 23 international artists working across recent decades, the exhibition examines the plasticity and the possibilities of ceramics. The artworks on show encompass fantastical creatures and uncanny representations of the everyday, as well as ranging from small abstract works to large-scale installations that take the medium beyond the kiln. The artworks vary in scale, finish and technique, and address topics that range from architecture, to social justice, the body, the domestic and the organic. While contributing to the broadening dialogue between art and craft, this exhibition provides a closer look at this tactile medium.
Shahpour Pouyan’s featured installation My Place is the Placeless (2017-2022), is made up of 33 glazed stoneware ceramic sculptures and a MS steel structure and Its first edition was shown in 2017 at Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai.
Shahpour Pouyan began working on My Place is the Placeless after taking a DNA test in 2014 and learning that his ancestry could be traced far beyond his native Iran, to 33 different countries. The artist extensively researched each country's historic architecture and chose to represent them in this work according to their distinctive roof structures, which he sees as "sophisticated forms of engineering used to monumentalise civilisation's art, culture and technology."
Some of Pouyan's roofs or domes refer to religious buildings or modest types of housing, while others are statements of grandiosity and power. The artist was also inspired by Darwinism in setting up the typology of forms for his installation. "The result of the DNA test was an excuse to think about the ways in which people are similar, and different," he explains, "and to reflect on both the narrowness of our ethnic labels and the unequal distribution of wealth and power throughout history."
Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art is Curated by Dr Cliff Lauson with Assistant Curator Marie-Charlotte Carrier and Curatorial Assistant Suzanna Petot. The exhibition features works by Aaron Angell, Salvatore Arancio, Leilah Babirye, Jonathan Baldock, Lubna Chowdhary, Edmund de Waal, Emma Hart, Liu Jianhua, Rachel Kneebone, Serena Korda, Klara Kristalova, Beate Kuhn, Takuro Kuwata, Lindsey Mendick, Ron Nagle, Magdalene Odundo, Woody De Othello, Grayson Perry, Shahpour Pouyan, Ken Price, Brie Ruais, Betty Woodman and David Zink Yi.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, co-published by Hayward Publishing and Hatje Cantz.