Temporary Exhibitions, Gutman Gallery
This exhibition presents recent vessels and drawings by Magdalene Odundo. Reflecting the technical and conceptual influences of an artist who lives abroad and has studied in England, India, and Nigeria, Odundo’s work is inspired by millennia of vessel-making from all over the world. Her lustrous thin-walled vessels are so difficult to make that she completes only a few each year. An illustrated catalogue accompanies this exhibition.
Magdalene Odundo is an internationally acclaimed ceramic artist whose handbuilt vesselshave become the fulcrum of a world of pottery traditions. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1950, Odundo is presently professor of ceramics at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College in Farnham.
Odundo's thin-walled vessels embody a farflung ceramic history that ranges from her native Kenya to Greco-Roman antiquity. Blending an exceptionally large list of "ancient and contemporary 'heroes,'" Odundo's symmetrical and biomorphic pots reflect her own unique relationship with clay, fire, and form. As she explains, "Clay is a simple substance with a complex structure playing havoc without and within our kilns, keeping us guessing and daring to change its natural composition. Yet, like an alchemist seeking to make gold, I continue to seek to create that ultimate elusive simple vessel which will hold magic for me."
Odundo's vessels suggest both animated and vocal beings rooted equally in cross-cultural techniques and forms and in modern and postmodern sculptural sensibilities. Beyond their aesthetic resonance with multiple artistic traditions, her work reflects a unique insight into the transcultural roles and meanings of ceramic vessels, both sacred and secular. Resonance and Inspiration features her most recent body of work, supplemented by preparatory drawings.
Susan Cooksey / Barbara Thompson