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Peter Voulkos and Jesse Wine
Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles, California
by Nancy Kay Turner


Jesse Wine, “True Curiosity,” 2017, paint, sand, ceramic, 30 1/2 x 21 x 23"

 

“Love is a Many Splendored Thing” — the title of a lost work by Peter Voulkos and a classic 1955 William Holden/Jennifer Jones romantic tear jerker — brings together the muscular ceramic sculptures of the iconic Voulkos with the vibrant ceramic sculptures of the young British sculptor Jesse Wine. Voulkos adapted the aesthetics of Abstract-Expressionist painting to the malleable material of clay. He was originally a potter making vessels who transitioned to being a sculptor making structures. The earliest piece here is indeed a thrown vessel, “Untitled” (1956). It is a fairly sedate, reduction pottery vessel with bimorphic slab shapes affixed to its pock-marked surface. Next to it sits a stunning, monumental piece by Wine entitled “Dear Peter” (2017). An almost exact recreation of a famous early Voulkos work entitled “Rocking Pot,” this is indeed a love letter to Voulkos. Though completely abstract, the bell-like shape reminds one of a helmet riddled with holes through which three curved rib-bone shapes are poking, the whole piece resting on two posts. This is strangely and poetically elegiac, the rough surface filled with prints of the maker’s hands. With the exception of “Vase/Jar” (1956), a piece which is vaguely architectural, Voulkos’ works are totemic compositions created by stacking upside-down thrown pots. Surfaces are characteristically mottled, cut, poked, scraped and sliced in his trademark spontaneous manner. The reduction firing brings out the rich iron spotted surface.

Wine’s six wonderfully quirky figurative sculptures look as if fragments of Picasso’s “Guernica” have artfully arranged themselves. In five of the six robust sculptures, there is a suggestion of head, torso, forearms and hands. The somewhat delicate detail in the hands and nails is surprising, as the rest of the figure is simplified to an economy of sturdy parts. The glazes range from flat, paint-like ochre, to a wonderful rusted surface, to matte charcoal, to a sand encrusted battleship gray. “Ole” is the one exception here. Looking at first like a bent arm, it morphs surprisingly into a foot. The bright, glossy orange glaze suggests the influence of Ken Price and Ron Nagle. Wine’s endearing and slightly lumpy surface highlights the handmade coil construction. One can also see echoes of Barbara Hepworth in all those holes in the body of the work, as well as Henry Moore’s reclining figures, themselves influenced by Mayan and Aztec figures. This exhibit is a wonderful infinity of mirrors where everything old is new again and everything new will be old

 

 

parrasch heijnen gallery

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