Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sanam Emami @ Greenwich House Pottery

This is a small, focused, and lovely show which primarily explores the unusual form of the tulip vase. Sanam Emami is known for elegant functional porcelain that combines various approaches including screen-printed underglazing and stamping. The subtle glaze colors are enlivened as they break over the complex forms, and the motifs and treatment of the underglazes reveal themselves almost as ruminations on ideas that preoccupy the artist. Though small, the parts where a stamped bit of design gets a little wash of bold underglaze color gives a percussive little blast of energy that feels kind of like paging through a sketchbook of ideas and finding a little gem of something. In places, the silkscreened imagery feels as if it might be code or shorthand for a personal thought or memory, and the uneven coverage/saturation of these underglazed bits contributes to that feeling of something susceptible to slipping away. The eyes take their time and make their way around the vases and are rewarded.

I recommend the excellent interview that this artist did for American Craft magazine. Her way of talking about her work is a real pleasure to read.

The show also has a wall piece made up of numerous stoneware trivets (whose shapes seem derived from Islamic tile forms) presented as a group against its painted and filigreed backdrop. These go even further in their freewheeling combination of techniques and imagery, but my photos disappointed. I also felt that many of the individual pieces here were too high up to really see well.

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