Object of My Affection

Enchanting Ceramics at Hostler Burrows

Lee Mindel

Lee F Mindel FAIA, architect-extraordinaire, shares the latest on what's catching his eye

After hibernating through the challenges that defined the last year, we emerge to find a fresh, exuberant outburst of joyous optimism in the form of a Danish ceramics exhibition at the esteemed Hostler Burrows gallery in Manhattan. The show celebrates the work of nine contemporary Danish artists, ranging in age from 30 to 70 years young. Each in his or her own way carry forward the tradition of the early 20th-century Scandinavian design greats and evoke the quality of frozen nature found in the work of Danish ceramics master Axel Salto.

Fullerene by Bente Skjøttgaard. Photo © Lee F Mindel FAIA

When it comes to ceramics and the expression of the organic, there is nothing like a Dane. Gallery proprietor Juliet Burrows describes this national aptitude for innovative ceramic work as a kind of sorcery—which is captured in the show’s title, “Bend, Bubble, and Shine,” as if invoking a spell over a simmering caldron.

Glazed stoneware by Marianne Nielsen. Photo © Lee F Mindel FAIA

So honest, elegant, and rigorous are these diverse works that one is inspired to photograph them in a natural setting… outside the gallery’s storefront on 10th Street. The works by Morten Løbner Espersen, Bente Skjøttgaard, Steen Ipsen, and Marianne Nielsen are a garden unto themselves and so comfortable in the context of spring greenery.

Ellipse by Steen Ipsen. Photo © Lee F Mindel FAIA

Gitte Jungersen’s luminescent coalition of raw materials exploits the materiality of clay and glazes, creating a volcanic, frothy moment of beauty.

Detail of work by Gitte Jungersen. Photo © Lee F Mindel FAIA

Martin Bodilsen Kaldahl erects monumental, three-dimensional tubular doodles that can be conjoined in various configurations that exude an energetic dynamism.

Spatial Drawing by Martin Bodilsen Kaldahl. Photo © Lee F Mindel FAIA

Turi Heisselberg Pedersen fashions subtly hued, rootlike structures; distilled forms with an air of confidence and calm not unlike architectural facades.

Objects for a Dreamscape by Turi Heisselberg Pedersen. Photo © Lee F Mindel FAIA

Pernille Pontoppidan Pedersen assembles a ceramic mash up of disparate forms in a fantasia of free association; the mundane or even the unattractive becomes transcendent in her hands.

Making Has Kin in It by Pernille Pontoppidan Pedersen. Photo © Lee F Mindel FAIA

All nine artists share the same sophisticated, vivacious, and refined approach to the art form of sculpture, each innovating in the the category we call “ceramics.” Yet it is much more than a technique of expression. It is the joy of life itself.

The brain child of Copenhagen Ceramics in collaboration with the Hostler Burrows, this exhibition is not to be missed. Ceramics have forever evolved looking both into the past and the future. Perhaps Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said it best: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

Spatial Collages by Karen Bennicke. Photo © Lee F Mindel FAIA