Ooey Gooey Alchemy

Morten Løbner Espersen

March 11 – April 11, 2021

Press Release

The gallery is operating virtually through this coming fall.


To check out our viewing room on Artsy, click here.

Gooey Ooey Alchemy, a solo exhibition of works by Danish ceramist Morten Løbner Espersen, opens online March 11th.

It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident anymore, not it’s inner life, not it’s relation to the world, not even it’s right to exist— so spoke Theodore Adorno. 

It is not amiss to suppose that this premise on some level informs the work of Morten Løbner Espersen— the Danish ceramist renowned for the (simultaneous) simplicity of his forms and complexity of his surfaces— and his approach to the clay. His real focus is the vessel It is an idea whose meaning has been culturally and obscured, clouded by an endless line of questioning and deconstruction. 

As if responding to the dense, image-laden flurry that is today’s visual culture, Espersen has simplified. He has worked tirelessly over the years to cleave away everything about ceramic vessels that is non-essential. The resulting plain forms of most of his works prove to be a perfect canvas upon which to develop a  color and texture; through the process of simplification and subsequent build-up of full-bodied glaze, the vessels are transmuted into sculptural objects. Espersen has masterfully leveraged his own eye for color to create work that serves as a visual and conceptual respite.

The exceptions are, of course— Espersen’s amphorae. Dubbed “horror vaccui,” together they comprise an ever-expanding series of vessels modeled after Classical Greek amphorae and obscured by an undulant, meandering mass of forms. This application of sculptural abstraction onto a form conceived in antiquity as something essentially utilitarian lends itself readily to interpretation. As though the pots are carrying cultural baggage on their shoulders.

The term “horror vaccui” refers, simply, to a fear or dislike of empty spaces. When one considers that a pot, a vase, ultimately a vessel is itself a frame for an empty space a clever application of irony emerges. It leaves a viewer with the sense that the horror vaccui pieces, as busy as they are empty, are in fact celebrations of the conceptual potential of the pot.

In this sense, his work is an antidote to that which is overwrought, overworked, and overblown. Calling back to simple shapes disavows systems of meaning: it instead privileges systems of seeing. It lets the eye rest and roam.

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