Not So Precious - Rethinking the Figurine

Lately, the excellent Beautiful Decay blog has been featuring a handful of artists who subvert traditional notions of precious ceramic objects. Here is a selection of works that have caught my eye. Click on any image to view its source.



"Penny Byrne transforms vintage porcelain figures and other found objects into work that makes a humorous or political statement." via Beautiful Decay


AESF sculpture1

"Europe-Europe is a series of porcelain figurines created by the collective AES+F - a group made up of the artists Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch, Evgeny Svyatsky, and Vladimir Fridkes." via Beautiful Decay


Aganetha Dyck sculpture1 honeycomb

"You could say artist Aganetha Dyck creates her sculptures as much as she fascilitates them.  Dyck uses honeybees to decorate these figurines." via Beautiful Decay From the artist: "To begin a collaborative project with the honeybees, I choose a slightly broken object or damaged material from a second hand market place. I choose damaged objects because honeybees are meticulous beings, they continuously mend anything around them and they do pay attention to detail."



"Mary O’Malley’s Bottom Feeders is a series of oceanic ceramics that look as if they were discovered among sea wreckage. These “porcelain crustaceans” appear delicate and dangerous, as the aquatic life that crawls among the porcelain seems as if could consume and become the dish itself." via Beautiful Decay

Like Dyck, O'Malley embraces the idea of collaborating with nature. "What interested me with this series, is by applying the creatures to plates and bowls I was reminded of naturally occurring circumstances where nature takes over man made scenarios. Humans are constantly vying for power against the natural world but we can never quite seem to win."



"For Translated Vase, Korean artist Yeesookyung assembles broken and discarded pieces of ceramics into new and contemporary work." via Beautiful Decay


These intriguing works remind me of two more artists, painter Mary Ann Strandell and photographer Martin Klimas:

Mary Ann Strandell, Finding Gold, 20" x 20", oil on canvas. Collection of Nerman Museum of Art, Overland Park, KS.

From the artist: "The Pop Baroque / Chinoiserie series are a pictorial vernacular reconsidering European Rococo tropes and modernist strategies through the veneer of reductionist painting, data collecting, and abstract systems of indexing."

I have had the good fortune to see Strandell's work at JRB Art Gallery at the Elms in Oklahoma City, and am always charmed at her transformation of the precious and the banal in her compositions.


Untitled (Two Ladies)

Martin Klimas, Untitled (Two Ladies), 2008, 59 x 79 inches, pigment print. via Foley Gallery

I could go on about Klimas' work, but I recommend you read this interview on The Morning News to learn all about it.

Thank you, Beautiful Decay and others, for putting these beautiful works in my visual path. Keep it up.