While in Pest, Hungary, my dear friend, Kate, and I ventured into an antique bookstore. We both are serious bibliophiles, so we spent quite a bit of time looking through their collection despite the language barrier. A few of my purchases included A Kis Herceg (the Little Prince in Hungarian), a British book of faerie tales, and a book on Hungarian folk artist Ilona Kiss Rooz. Though the text of the book on Kiss Rooz was in a foreign language, the images in the book were what sold me. Her artwork is incredibly textured and expressive. From what I have been able to glean from the book's images and what little information there is on her in English on the internet, she threw vessels and altered them into narrative works which include stylized figures. Often her functional forms were framing devices for the characters she would put within. This was incredibly inspirational to me, as I am very interested in vignettes and works which find a way to set up encapsulated scenes. Though she graduated from an art school, its fantastic that she still worked in the realm of traditional craft and folklore. Her forms were well done and symmetrically thrown and she utilized mark making which was in no way haphazard, while incorporating traditional Hungarian motifs. Though her figures were simplified and rustic, overall, the execution of her craft was impeccable and oh-so-appealing. There was so much life and expression in her colorful, atmospherically fired work. I am incredibly thankful for my Hungarian experiences and for the discovery of this fantastic artist.
Before I left for my study abroad trip in Kecskemet, Hungary, at the International Ceramics Studio, I came across the work of Danish artist, Maria Rubinke. I hadn't really taken much time to absorb the narratives before traveling, but I knew that I enjoyed her use of very sweet looking, little girl dolls in precarious situations. Cynthia Constantino's Figurines, sculptures of little girls holding guns, were brought to mind when I first saw Rubinke's work.
Often in Rubinke's sculpture, there is extreme violence taking place, highlighted by stains of red in the bright white porcelain she uses. Upon further research I found that she has used a lot of animal and other naturalistic imagery juxtaposed with carnival-esque and other surrealistic - even nightmarish - visual references. Power and fragility seem to be themes that she often utilizes in her small scale sculptures. I feel a sense of Grimm's gruesome fairy tales running through her body of work, warning the viewer of events that might occur if they don't keep their wits about them.
Rubinke keeps her color palette minimal, incorporating red, black, gold, or pink to highlight certain areas of her otherwise pristine, white porcelain. To me, this makes for a more striking, and even illustrative body of work, without distraction of superfluous pigmentation. Kate MacDowell and Louise Hindsgavl are two ceramic artists who also follow this line of color treatment. I usually am very drawn to dark and dingy, warn surfaces, but am incredibly enthralled with immaculately white porcelain. Perhaps it is the discovery of these artists and the fact that I was able to access the phenomenal Hungarian porcelain that I am so excited about bright, white clay. It can be just as expressive as other, darker works.