Uncommon Clay

Contemorary ceramic artists combine craft and tradition with boundary-pushing creativity.

April 2018

"At the art world’s top international fairs, visitors may encounter contemporary ceramic works from New York’s Jason Jacques Gallery. These fairs, with their high volume of visitors and collectors, have helped introduce the gallery’s artists and their works to a wider audience. “We participate in about a half dozen fairs internationally,” notes director Jason Busch. “Some of them are art fairs, some of them are design fairs, and some are more a combination of the two and have a historic element, like the Winter Antiques Show in New York or TEFAF in Maastricht. But we’re participating in Frieze in New York, and it’s one of the best contemporary art fairs in the world. There’s certainly clay that finds its way there, but we’re really proud to be a gallery that really focuses on clay and ceramics.”

Jason Jacques offers some ceramics by late 19th-century French masters such as Ernest Chaplet and Pierre-Adrien Dalpayrat, as well, but the focus is on contemporary works. Some of the offerings may be accompanied by a hefty price tag. Contemporary ceramic works however, offer an entry point for beginning collectors looking to enter the market. “We’re selling things that are in the six-figure sums, but there’s plenty to buy for less than $50,000,” Busch points out. “Of course, we want to be able to promote artists, and raising their reputation also means prices tend to rise, as well, but we help to nurture those careers and give them the exposure they really need—at the gallery, at the art fairs, potentially even with a museum exhibition, and we’ve been a part of all three.” This approach helps foster an environment that benefits emerging artists by giving them greater visibility and collectability, and collectors who are looking to buy something that fits their budget.

In the gallery’s recent show, “In Focus: Eric Serritella,” the artist makes a telling statement about the medium and its deep connection to the natural world. The works on display are large-scale ceramic sculptures of weathered logs and birch trees, creating a frozen forest in the gallery space. There is something magical and pointed about earth or clay being transmuted into a representation of another natural, living thing. These sculptures have a simple, philosophical beauty. The ceramic birches evoke a Taoist perspective on the relationship between the parts and whole that makes up all things, and the inevitable, illusory changes that constitute what we see as “form.” Earth becomes wood in the heat of the kiln and under the pressure of time, but in the end, the exhibition points to a single, indivisible one which produces endless manifestations."

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