Singular Abstractions Absolutely
2001 ("Hundred Flower" Ground), 2000, ceramic, H: 11-1/4"
(28.5 cm.) Diam: 10-1/4" (26.0 cm.), courtesy of Garth Clark
Gallery, photo by Pierre Gauvin.
2088 (Yellow Ground and Polychrome Floral Motifs), 2000, ceramic,
H: 8" (20.0 cm.), Diam: 8-1/8" (20.5 cm.), courtesy of Garth
Clark Gallery, photo by Pierre Gauvin.
by Léopold L. Foulem
January 25 - April 5, 2001
Foulem, Third Annual Dorothy Perkins Lecturer
In this new series of ceramics: Singular Abstractions,
the inherent volume constituting the essence of containers has not
only been transformed into an undisputable mass, but also the resulting
image has been unequivocally characterized by specific historical
This absolutely recent body of work by Canadian
ceramicist Leopold Foulem (b. 1945) being presented in this one-person
exhibition in Alfred, is far from being an update on previous abstraction
series exhibited in 1998 at Galerie Lieu Ouest, in Montreal, or
in 1999 at Garth Clark Gallery in New York City.
Admittedly, at first glance, the reductive structural
approach to form is somewhat similar. Here, also, emblematic pottery
shapes have been appropriated and synthesized into three very basic
geometric minimal forms: the sphere, the cone and the cylinder.
Furthermore, the outside wall of the iconic three-dimensional structures
is not monochromatic and the plinth has been taken away. The uniform
single color of the earlier abstractions was stressing the connection
with modernist high-art formalist consideration without, needless
to say, obliterating the links with ceramic tradition such as Ming
or Qing dynasties monochrome wares. The new surfaces are much more
singular and overtly dissonant.
A major conceptual difference from the previous
groups of abstractions is the disappearance of the ubiquitous plinth.
That strategy was used to divorce the vessel form from its ordinary
environmental space, thus creating a peculiar site for the object
as image, and to accentuate the negation of function. However, in
the Singular Abstractions series, this is achieved by exaggerating
the proportion of the base on which rests the novel construction.
This shift brings about a radical change in the reading of the piece
at the formal aspect.
Now, at once, there are two distinct points of
view presented to the viewer. The spatial relationship between the
suggested or implied image and the physical object is to be understood
as if one were looking at a perspective. The vertical architectonic
form is in recession as if it were located quite far above the foot.
The size of the horizontal disk, the base, is truly the actual dimension
for reconstituting the true object.
The deliberate aloofness, the obvious distance
between the maker, the medium and the finished piece is of capital
importance. This maneuver neutralizes the hand-made aspect, the
craft connection, and any sentimentality.
2021 (Yellow and Blue), 2000, ceramic, H: 8-1/4" (21.0 cm.),
Diam: 8-1/8" (20.8 cm.), courtesy of Garth Clark Gallery,
photo by Pierre Gauvin.
2026 (Blue Willow Pattern), 2000, ceramic, H: 9-3/4" (25.0
cm.), Diam: 10-1/2" (26.5 cm.), courtesy Garth Clark Gallery,
photo by Pierre Gauvin.