Special Exhibition


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January 1, 2011 - December 31, 2011

Preview of the 2011 calendar of events at the Marianne Heller gallery in Heidelberg



Around the world in six exhibitions

The Marianne Heller gallery is now coming up to its thirty third year – and even after a third of a century, the Heidelberg gallery owner is still following a consistently progressive path. Through her work, which is both determined and prepared to take risks in equal measure, she enjoys the established reputation of being the foremost address in Germany for international contemporary ceramics. To put it bluntly: this is no federal German institution - no museum would be able to compete with what is on show in the spacious rooms of the prestigious flat-roofed building in the Stadtgarten park all year round in terms of international ceramics: given the generally dire financial situation, no museum or institution is still able to be so expansive or even approach such a commitment to the field of ceramics. How a private individual such as Marianne Heller is able to put together her program again and again is both admirable and puzzling. The fact is: nowhere else in German-speaking countries can such stars be encountered or new discoveries made, brought together from all over the ceramic globe. Anyone who has a soft spot for the genre cannot avoid choosing the metropolis on the river Neckar as their travel destination several times a year, or at least planning a stopover there to visit the gallery. And the fact that this will be no different in 2011 is ensured by the new calendar of events with exhibits from the USA, Japan, Germany, the Czech Republic, Brazil and Scotland. And incidentally, the fact that last year Marianne Heller was elected to the Council of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC) in Geneva, must be seen as recognition of her commitment: Congratulations!

The first special exhibition from 20th February to 3rd April will be a real highlight for all friends of Japanese ceramics and the aesthetics of woodfiring: after about two and a half years, Isezaki Jun from Japan and Jeff Shapiro from the USA return with a joint exhibition of their latest works. Isezaki Jun, who was nominated a “Living National Treasure” in 2004 – the highest accolade that a Japanese ceramist can receive – is part of the Bizen tradition, which has been unbroken for seven centuries: unglazed stoneware in traditional forms, exposed simply to the embers and ash in long tunnel kilns, often with patterns of salt-impregnated straw burnt on. However much Isezaki Jun owes to these roots, he has nevertheless carefully personalised the wealth of forms in his own distinctive way, for example in his winged rectangular vases with irregular feet. Even more extreme in their surfaces encrusted with ash deposits and their sculptural appearance are the angular works of the American Jeff Shapiro. Having worked for many years in Japan and now living in New York, Shapiro is regarded as one of the foremost Western developers of the technique of woodfiring.

The exhibition series reaches its experimental peak between 10th April and 22nd May. Students of Prof. Kerstin Abraham at the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel have used the simple title “Tea table” as the impetus to gain an insight into metaphorical dimensions from it – their works will concern the culture and sociology of tea-drinking. Apart from usable tea sets, small installations will stage tea tables and tea landscapes which provoke thoughts about social intercourse and customs. Tea makers and thermos flasks are addressed as art objects in the same way as the casualness of drinking tea during a computer-guided rocket attack in the Afghan war. Kerstin Abraham’s own contribution will be a tribute to the decorated teapots of Hedwig Bollhagen, draped on the faience slab of a small ash table... Together with the Kiel adepts, the English ceramist Julian Stair and the Korean Young-Jae Lee, who is the manager of the ceramic workshop in Margaretenhöhe, Essen, will also be exhibiting. Both of them teach the Kiel students as visiting lecturers. Julian Stair is famous for his enigmatic still lives of tea bowls and pots made of green or red stoneware or white porcelain, remotely auratic ensembles, which in their formal clarity symbolise the ritual of serving - Young-Jae Lee’s finely glazed bowls, also often presented in installations, celebrate the nuance, that crucial tiny difference, which makes individuals of identical things.

The series of exhibitions of ceramics from the Czech Republic continues in the next show which takes place from 19th June to 31st July: “Between Prague and Budweis” presents new works by Pavel Drda, Elzbieta Grosseová, Jiri Laštovicka, Tomáš Proll, Eva Slavíková and, as a guest of the Czechs, the Japanese ceramist Kaku Hayashi. Once again, the deeper meaning and irony of the Eastern Europeans, and also the pressing concern about the human existential situation, will find expression in the most diverse forms of abstraction and time and again in the human figure, whilst Kaku Hayashi, with his series of works inspired by the philosophy of Zen or by ephemeral natural phenomena, is searching for a universal symbolic language.

Japanese ceramics remain a focal point: following the highly gratifying co-operation last year with the Yufuku Galery inTokyo, another guest show from the Tokyo gallery can be seen from 4th September to 9th October with four Japanese ceramists: Atsushi Takagaki’s crinkled vessels, coated with finely crazed celadon, which provide a fine contrast to the copper-red surfaces and edges – Takuo Nakamura’s rough stoneware vessels and plates, which he partly coats with the exuberant paintwork which stems from Kutani porcelain decoration – Katsumi Kako’s constructed stoneware vessels with their understated, archaic-seeming designs – Yoko Imada’s sweeping porcelain bowls with flowing, clear glaze.

The gallery will enter new ceramic territory from 23rd October to 27th November: although the ceramist pair Elizabeth Fonseca and Gilberto Paim work in Brazil, with their linear-geometrically decorated porcelain and stoneware vases, they are more along the lines of the work of Lucie Ries or of Scandinavian design. Even though they are created south of the equator, unexpected coolness, formal severity and reserved colouring define these invariably functional works which are also decorative in the best sense of the word.

The end of the year and the bridge to 2012 is formed by the exhibition from 11th December to 29th January of the irritating, and at the same time touching, sculptures by the Scots artist Susan O`Byrne – animal sculptures which show individual animals – fox, cheetah, gazelle... – as if they are taken out of a narrative situation, magical creatures from the realm of fables, vulnerable and gaunt, yet subtly dappled at the same time, which is the result of the way they are created by making a wire framework to which porcelain paper clay is applied – not realistic, but with a dream-like reality.

Dr. Walter Lokau, Leipzig


opening hours:

Tue - Fri 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. & 2 - 6 p.m.
Sat 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
and by arrangement


exhibition site:

Galerie Heller, Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 2, D-69117 Heidelberg


© 2012 by www.galerie-heller.de