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Friday, November 23, 2012

Ceramics - art or craft?


By Neehar Mishra
Photography: Ireno Guerci, Auroville; courtesy Adil Writer

Crusade Series Ceramic & Acrylic on Canvas

Auroville-based artist Adil Writer talks to IAnD about his tryst with ceramic art…

Oscar Wilde rightly said, “A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.” And nothing applies more aptly to Adil Writer, an architect turned painter-cum-ceramic artist, fusing his artistic skill and aesthetic sensibilities to give ceramics a new raison d’ĂȘtre.

Book Stack made in Shigaraki,Japan

Devi Panel stoneware anagama fired
                            
With a Masters degree in Architecture and Urban Design from the University of Houston, and 12 years of professional practice, Adil got intrigued with the art of ceramics. His intended short-term course at Golden Bridge Pottery turned his intentions on their head and he stayed on, studying the varied nuances of clay work, pursuing ceramic art full time. Currently as partner at Mandala Pottery, Auroville, Adil creates his own line of studio pottery along with ceramic tableware, tiles, murals and installations. His architectural leanings find a bonhomie with the artistic material malleable in his hands; his head ticking off at various levels; allowing the creative realm to surge above all else.

Adil Writer

A variety of processes dot his ceramic pieces; pots are either thrown on the wheel, slip-cast in moulds or hand-built. They are first bisque-fired, then glazed and again re-fired to evoke the atypical body and glaze of stoneware pottery. Drawing inspiration from his surrounding landscape, stone-age structures and art forms from all over the world, his work often carries text from Sri Aurobindo and Gulzar, even lyrics from contemporary rock musicians, who he calls the bards of the current era.

Four-Poster Series, smoke fired

Ikebana Vases made in Shigaraki, Japan

In a recent body of work done on his visit to Shigaraki, an ancient pottery town in Japan, one sees cleaner lines, simpler, mature treatment and a keen sense of the art of calligraphy manifesting itself into the ceramic mould as compared to his earlier simulations of a mere scribble. Incidentally, Adil proposes to exhibit his clay work in an exhibition that will document his know-how with ceramic art prior to, during and after his Japan experience.

Ek Sutra, ink on paper, Calligraphy to be exhibited in a forthcoming exhibition at Delhi

Platter made in Faenza

Working in different settings, with different materials leads to fresh perspectives; Adil is currently busy with his signature ‘Crusade Series’ that endeavours to ensure that the art of clay receives its fair due in India. “We do not value ceramic art as much as we do the painted canvas,” he says. With this series’, he challenges and invites the viewer to feel and experience clay and canvas in tandem. The series depicts canvas and ceramic side by side, in a complementary treatment that makes it difficult to identify one from the other.

Premonition Series - Blues Diptych in acrylic on canvas

At the Exhibition Transformation, Auroville, Sept.2012

Bridging the divide between art and craft, which, opinionates Adil, is incidentally a misnomer;  viewing work like that of Adil’s reinstates that creativity is manifest in a zillion ways; categorizing it as a matter of simplification may seem the norm, but clearly calls for a more informed viewing attention, that needs to be guided to holistically appreciate an artistic oeuvre.

Solutions3 - painted media

Sand Series in acrylic on canvas

Enjoy Adil Writer’s ceramic repertoire at www.adilwriter.com

15 comments :

  1. http://tinyurl.com/amee98g
    Digital Embroidery--multi-media-arts / high-low-art-debate
    I wrote this article on a similar topic
    High fine art emerges through the steady application of insightful and authentic contemporary craft
    Thanks for this conversation!
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

    ReplyDelete
  2. All art is a craft. Not all craft is art. The seoeration occurs when the craft shows no atristic merrit. When a work acheives skill in technique and a unique visual expression it is art regardless of the medium. The work illustrated on indiaartndesign.com has merrit in sculpture and painting.
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

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  3. sorry I am so simple minded but and maybe stupid. I agree with Peter on many levels but most craft does show artistic merrit just some show more than others. I can't think of an example at the moment. actually you have craft and art that sometimes they are just bad but still you must still give them artisti valuation and merit. I don't know if this makes any scense and it is not very formal. Sorry

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  4. Regarding art versus craft , this has been a thorn in my side for many years . I do very detailed Woodburning with an acrylic wash to highlight it. It is a very exacting medium with no room for failure . One shot and done. A mistake cannot be corrected . An error results in "kindling". I have had shows where I am juried into fine art , and in many cases I have placed best in show in the fine art category, other shows have claimed it is not art .
    Recently I did a fine art show in one town where I was judged best in show. Two weeks later in the next town, I was rejected altogether as " Not Fine Art" their decision was based on the fact my work was not oil, primarily acrylic, nor watercolor .If those three criteria determine what is fine art, we have a problem for all artists and craftsmen , A finely crafted vase, a metal sculpture , a finely crafted wood carving are all works of art and deserving to be placed in the pantheon of Fine art in my humble opinion . What took more skill, A Da Vinci painting ?, A Michelangelo statue? An Ansel Adams photograph ?, an Albrect Durer etching ? or a Jackson Pollock ? You tell me .
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

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  5. I know of several ceramacists that are fine artists, I think the public perception needs changing.. more shows open to everyone, free art shows in different locations.. then people will stop saying "oh you do pottery do you?" and see the interesting work
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

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  6. "All art is a craft. Not all craft is art. The separation occurs when the craft shows no artistic merit. When a work achieves skill in technique and a unique visual expression it is art regardless of the medium."

    Very well stated. Just as education does not necessarily lead to wisdom, an MFA should not be the only gold standard for artwork. Artists and Artisans come from all backgrounds, education levels and inherently different capabilities. The medium should not determine whether work is considered craft, fine art or something in between. Well executed and thoughtful work in any medium is, to me, better than sloppy conceptual "art" like hanging a bathrobe on a wall and calling it ART (I actually saw this in a show!), or painting a black line on a yellow canvas and having some art critic write 2,000 words about the "meaning".

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  7. To all is given gifts/talents and all is a works of art of its Creator, some crafts, some photography, some leather works and some limited edition fine art paintings and/or sculpture. Thus said, fine art artists’ works are in a class of its own, both in sought after and price. The work of itself costs much more to create with the time in research, creation and producing therefor the ultimate value puts it in a much higher market whose clientele are fine art collectors, art investors, private and corporate and therefore cannot be properly shown in same venue with craft items due to the work and its value comparisons, just does not do it justice nor appreciated by their clientele. To do so it only serves to de-value the price of fine art and the professional fine artist's overall compass of work. Much like costume jewelry verses fine jewelry with its precious metal and stones as both attract totally different patrons/clientele.
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I deal with this every single day. I had one gallery, where the locals had much rather purchase what you may call crafts, and then others which could not believe i would allow a craft next to a ,Fine Art piece, not a painting but a piece,like clay, or skilled wood work,and or pottery,i have yet to see fine ceramics, but have seen and sold Fine Art Gourds lol Cannot judge,but in my gallery now, that I am moving, i will have to be more strict to wet the taste buds of buyers of fine art. A tough position to be in, when you see skilled artisans want to be in your gallery.
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

    ReplyDelete
  9. It is so strange in this life to see the way people make themselves comfortable by herding everyone into some pigeon-hole. At the same time it is so interesting how differently cultures interpret this information.

    In Japan, the ceramic artist is thought of as a national treasure. Tea bowls have been known to sell for the same price as mansions. In China, Sung Dynasty glazes have never been surpassed.

    I spent a month in India in 1984. I was unaware that it was taboo for women to throw on the potter's wheel. In India, the potter's caste is but one step above the untouchable. The potters in Delhi were among the few who did not speak English. Somehow I convinced them to let me throw. The surrounding throng was vast. Luckily I could squat. Luckily I can think.


    The wheel head was a wooden slab placed on a wooden rod. When I first tried to throw, the wheel head canted at a 45 degree angle. Somehow I figured out how to keep the head level. Then I came across a huge stone in the clay. I shoved it to the bottom and kept going.

    Every day I went and every day they let me throw. This was among the happiest time I have had in this lifetime. It was an amazing experience to help them load the pit kiln and see the pieces fire and again see them when they were taken from the pit. I was very happy that they were going to sell my pieces. I wanted to contribute something.

    Their community meant everything to me. They offered me food and water. I am sure you know how much we are warned never to drink the water, and not to eat the food. I would rather have died than refuse it. It tasted great and no, I did not get sick.

    We are here on earth to uplift one another. It matters not that they be called artists or craftsmen. All art requires skill; all art requires vision; all art has a statement that must be made.

    There are words that I have taken from the tomb-stone of the artist, Jimmy Ernst, son of dada's Max Ernst:


    Artists and Poets are the raw nerve endings of humanity. By themselves there is little they can do to save humanity. Without them there would be little worth saving.
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

    ReplyDelete
  10. In a similar vein, when I first travelled to East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, on the way to Berlin from Munich, we stopped at a small east German town to try to find somewhere to eat. I saw people who just stared at us, people without life in their eyes. This was my first glimpse of a pure proletarian society which had done a good job getting rid of most free thinkers, artists, writers, philosophers etc.. I swore then that I would never try to justify being an artist. A society without the arts is terrifying.
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Michael.
    Ouch. These comments are amazing. Those who know better could even laugh reading this nonsense, but it's not really funny anymore, not for some 20+ years now.
    (How much one must be pre-conditioned & zombified by ludicrous cold-war brain-washing to take just a straight imprint of propaganda for any kind of reality ? )
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

    ReplyDelete
  12. We have specialised societies for each media here in NI but most of the collectives are mixed media, referring to themselves variously as art collectives or arts & crafts whatever the final breakdown of the members.
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

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  13. Kevin Cloud BrechnerNovember 28, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Art or craft? Separating art from craft is just one more example of the Euro-American tendency to dualism. Mind or body? Good or Bad? Pro-life or Pro-choice? My land or yours? State's rights or abolish slavery? Change the "or" to "and" and you have solved the problem that really isn't there.
    In response to IAnD's discussion thread:Is separating art from craft truly hampering the quantum of appreciation that the artiste merits and affecting valuation of the work of art as well?

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  14. Kevin, I think you cloud the issue with your dualism. What is at work here is a system of values that is multicultural, not a "Euro-American" tendancy but a world wide chioice of bad good and better. A craft becomes art when it incorporates design with function. For example a sapling cut from the forest can be a walking stick which has a basic function. The criteria used in cutting the stick such as length, weight, strength can be considered a craft. When the stick is embelished with carving or enhanced with design/color etc. it becomes art and gains in value.

    ReplyDelete

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