Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bryan Hopkins' Ceramics: Perfect Imperfection

Last week I blogged about the Buffalo, NY art scene.  In it I included some images from three artists in a current exhibition at Buffalo Arts Studio.  One of the artists was Bryan Hopkins.  I liked his work so much that I decided to explore what he had posted on-line and introduce all of you to his ceramics.  FYI all the content for this blog was found on his website 

Bryan received his MFA from SUNY New Paltz in 1995, he has been an adjunct professor at Niagara County Community College for the past 15 years, and he has shown his work extensively throughout the country.  Bryan categorizes his work into two groups... Function and Dysfunction.  The functional work "Follow[s] in the lineage of 'fine china' I produce objects for domestic service, adding my own sense of affect and defect. The work’s primary use is that of a utilitarian object, and all the pieces perform as they should".  The dysfunctional work "is based on the premise that the clay vessel is capable of more than holding fruit, presenting flowers, or decorating a sideboard, and that there are additional functions of the vessel, such as containing the intangible (light, shadow, idea)".  His inspiration for his ceramics is diverse and encompasses "my urban environment, Modernist architecture, backyard forts, Gordon Matta-Clark, 19th century European porcelain, Minimalism, Bugs Bunny, and Song Dynasty porcelain."

According to Bryan...
"The juxtaposition of glazed and unglazed surfaces combined with industrial textures not typically associated with porcelain produce a tension in the work, and is at odds with porcelain’s implicit societal qualities (upper-class association and assumption of purity and preciousness). The intimate scale of the work draws the viewer near, creating a more intense and personal dialogue. By leaving evidence of the process of making and using the concept of function as a starting point I allow the viewer an insight for initial interpretation."
Since I'm working on a series of Buffalo, NY architecture linocuts I cannot help but see the rusty, decaying, brick buildings in his ceramics.  The shapes, forms, and textures of his work mirror cinder block, concrete, and wood, and some of the pieces are even anchored to what looks like gray brick.  There's an industrial quality to these pieces that brings to mind one of the most fascinating architectural sights in Buffalo: the weather worn grain elevators that you can see along the Buffalo Skyway.  Bryan's work seems to embody the beauty of these old structures... his ceramics seem to walk the line between mechanical and organic, machine made and hand made, man and nature.  They are excellent examples of how imperfection can be transformed from flaw to depth.

Grain Elevators,

Grain Elevators,

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