'From Spring/Break's riotuous energy to radical ceramics at Salon 94'
I caught the opening of Boucherouite, an exhibition of astonishing ceramic sculptures by Francesca DiMattio on view at Salon 94 gallery on the Bowery (until 21 April). Her three new sculptures—the show also includes paintings—are completely mad, and towering, animal and humanoid figures that are dazzling for their colour, scale and feathered effects. (The show’s title refers to rag rugs made by Berber women from discarded clothing.) To achieve this look, DiMattio said, “I put the porcelain through a garlic press.”
One shard at a time. The artist has been equally inventive with her glazing techniques, collaging together contrary textures from coarse to delicate and spiky to smooth. The piece She-Wolf combines soapstone-like body parts with garlands of small, painted flowers and ungainly ceramic legs, some adorned with a thick coat of those tiny, garlicpressed needles of porcelain. More fully resolved is Venus II, a cactus-like totem that puts an electric blue torso and a horror-movie head that extends from a sinewy, floral neck atop a fertility figure from antiquity.
These sculptures, which suggest giant, costumed dancers from the Brazilian Carnaval, also reminded me of more abstract, shape-shifting works by Arlene Shechet, who wrests entrancing harmonies from disparate materials and forms. DiMattio’s visual vocabulary is different, but she is just as disruptive of a medium that once was merely bourgeois. Now it’s a hotbed of radicality.