We discovered the work of Kristin McKirdy on the Manufacture de Sèvre stand during the Brafa art fair in Brussels. This Canadian (Toronto, 1958) artist is one of the top ceramicists in the revival of contemporary ceramics. Now living in France for over 20 years, she was the subject of a retrospective in 2012 while she was completing her residency at Sèvres Cité de la Céramique.
The subjet matter and enamel used in her works seen at Brafa were true to the Manufacture’s tradition: Le couple, two small oblong shapes delicately placed on a bisque cushion; Nature morte, a high fruit platter containing abstract shapes. Once again, the pieces presented today at the Galerie Pierre-Marie Giraud in Brussels are organised in families. What we see unfolding before us is a series of shapes, an alphabet, whose texture and volumes are very different from what she had shown us previously.
During her four-year residency in the workshops of the Manufacture, Kristin McKirdy brilliantly integrated and transposed the Sèvres repertoire into her own works. Blue – the Manufacture’s iconic colour –, which she refused to use before because she considered it to be too decorative, is now part of her new vocabulary. Here, Kristin McKirdy is testing out aesthetics which is reminiscent of the 1950s ceramics style. Wheel thrown, or shaped with wadding and slab, each piece is arranged with others in a small group. They constitute small tribes, allowing us to pick each element, and put it back here or there, to the right or left of its twin brother. Scratched, marked textures like bark contrast with smooth brightly coloured areas. Whether skittles, fallen vases, small planets or dream islands, all are Untitled, yet imbued with grace and a dreamlike dimension.
Six vases with long necks rise up as if unified by the same family ties. Displaying a suble palette of fern green, yellow and brown, they reveal a white core, a perfectly smooth and immaculate opposite to their bark-like outer skin. A few cylinders with black hearts and a cuboid in a white texture are placed next to four perfect spheres. The elegant red and pink of the spheres make them stand out. By means of this formal vocabulary, the artist conveys something that is both timeless and totally in the now. Because of its age-old and archaic connotations, clay imparts each of the works with a powerful materiality, an intense presence. A very pleasing result!
Galerie Pierre-Marie Giraud
7 rue de Praetere
Until 8 October
Tuesdays – Saturdays, from 11:00h to 13:00h and from 14:00h to 18:00h