Hayward Gallery, London. This contemporary ceramics show has everything from beautiful pitchers and sexy pots to stupid knick-knacks. Great globby gouts of shiny cerulean blue glaze slump and slide in an arrested, fused avalanche on a bare red column that’s taller than me. Something like a turd nestles on top of a misshapen, pistachio-coloured cupcake, and gold and red tears pattern a wonky blue shape that’s grown like fungus from the floor. Blackish congealed lumps of goo erupt through a golden glaze, and burst out through dense ultramarine. The whole thing’s like a giant melting sundae, or one of those forms you might find next to a deep-sea vent where life should be impossible. All these startling, ravishing creations are by Hiroshima-born Takuro Kuwata, their surface treatment developed from the glazes and techniques employed to decorate the humble bowls used in the Japanese tea ceremony.
Kuwata’s work goes beyond taste, or beauty, or refinement, though it is undoubtedly the product of great skill and technical knowhow. His work is also one of the best things in Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art at the Hayward Gallery in London. The show has everything from beautiful pitchers and pots to stupid, quasi-conceptual knick-knackery, from things that look as if they are crafted for some top-end boutique to overthought, misconceived craft that wants us to believe something deep and significant is going on.
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