Catalogue ÂŁ10 front cover: Pot number 6
Essay by David Whiting
Jean-Nicolas Gérard is one of those rare potters who brings genuine life and gusto to contemporary slipware, investing the tradition of terre vernissée with a fresh and expressive energy unlike any other. He takes the best of slipware’s history in Europe and infuses it with a deep appreciation of other traditions, from expressive Eastern ceramics to modern painting, all influences that contribute to the innate physicality of his pots. It is revealing that in talking of their admiration for Gérard’s work, people may refer not only to a whole range of country pottery, French and otherwise, but perhaps medieval earthenware, and in Japan, kilns such as Oribe and potters like Rosanjin, Koie and even Kaneko. Like these artists Gérard has moved beyond conventional methods. He has moved beyond the overly tutored aspects of making, the craft skills and procedures which every potter needs but which must to some degree be transcended if a pot is to have real vigour. But the wrong kind of individuality can also make it too selfconscious. I recall a conversation with Ewen Henderson in which he discussed the danger of one particular potter slipping into mannerism because of his exaggerated detailing. It is a fine line. But every Gérard piece, while fresh and different, is also controlled – objects which not only show a great understanding of form and the vocabulary of pottery, but also its functionality, its place in the rituals of good food and cooking, in hospitality and living. Pots to make us pause and celebrate.
Born in Brazzaville in the Congo in 1954, Gérard has been based in the south of France for many years, studying ceramics in the late 1970s, training with Jean Biagini at the École des Beaux Arts in Aixen-Provence, as well as Clare Bogino. He worked for a short while in stoneware before building his first wood-fired kiln for slipware. Since the early 1980s he has lived and worked in Valensole, a beautiful medieval hilltop village bathed in Provençal light and in summer surrounded by purple seas of lavender. Here is a landscape redolent with the art of Van Gogh and Cézanne, and on the coast with Bonnard and Matisse, a region in which colour has found some of its most potent expression, not only in the strong hues of Post-Impressionism and Fauvism, but in the luminous creamy yellows, ochres and greens of Provençal pottery. Jean-Nicolas Gérard’s pots add much to this heritage and to slipware in general. But he also relishes the parallels of expression between terre vernissée techniques and 20th century abstraction, from the collages of Matisse to the paintings of the New York School. There are gestural colorists like Pierre Alechinsky, where line and drawing combine so richly with pigment. Gérard makes the strong visual and physical connection between the painterly slips he uses and the thick liquidity of oil and acrylic. Gérard is in every sense a modern artist, a potter with a touch of Voulkos about him. The work is imbued with a sense of performance, of creative action, of clay and slip as wet fluid substances, more so than most potters I know. The fact that he works in series, gathering together
runs of pieces and decorating swiftly from one to another removes the stiff hesitancy of much ceramic embellishment. Gérard’s gestural rhythms develop their own momentum, extending out the freedom of each form so that every dish, jar or bowl has a special personality, a strong voice of its own. They are three-dimensional canvasses for his broad pourings and dips of glaze, his rapid painting and sgraffito incising. These objects, from his covetable mugs to his big square platters, have an activity and interaction that makes them impossible to ignore. Gérard’s applications of slip create surfaces of variation and movement onto which he can further mark and inscribe across the clay. He may add other details and flourishes, his cutting and modelling equally fast and loose. His big press-moulded dishes are similarly extemporised – the rims free and uneven – while some of his powerful jars have thick unglazed necks and bases, shapes with a real swagger. Monumental flared jars for the floor offer the broadest drawing areas. These qualities are concentrated into his smaller items too, from table bowls to jugs and beakers. There is no hierarchy. Every eminently usable pot is first and foremost a piece of functional art, complete when they are installed in house or garden, planted out or passed around the dining table. Pottery is a craft as well as an art, and loses much when potters abandon useful objects in favour of just plinth and shelf. Gérard’s vivid work is an act of celebration in which we can all participate. David Whiting, March 2013
I find a real sense of humanity in GĂŠrardâ€™s pots. I never tire of using them. Mike Goldmark
Jean-Nicolas GĂŠrard is one of those rare potters who brings genuine life and gusto to contemporary slipware... David Whiting
GĂŠrard is in every sense a modern artist, a potter with a touch of Voulkos about him. David Whiting
I have admired Jean-Nicolasâ€™ work for years. His spontaneous approach hits the spot every time. His pots sit in my home, a daily inspiration. Clive Bowen
Born in 1954 in Brazzaville (Congo); back in France in 1961. Since then has lived in Southern France. 1983
2nd prize at the Biennial of Châteauroux
1998/99 Musée National de la Céramique de Sèvres purchases several pieces. 2006
6th Mashiko International Ceramics Competition (‘presented for outstanding achievement’)
Purchase by Musée de la Piscine, Roubaix
MAIN EVENTS 1976-78 Student in Jean Biagini's studio, École des Beaux Arts of Aix en Provence. 1978
Creation of first studio in Lorgues (Var) with two fellow ceramicists – working with stoneware.
1979-80 Scholarship from SEMA. Works in Claire Bogino's and Paul Salmona's studio. 1980
Builds his first slipware wood kiln in Lorgues.
First personal studio in Puimoisson (Alpes de Haute Provence) – wood kiln.
Settles in Valensole (Alpes de Haute Provence) – builds a gas kiln.
First trip to Africa to meet the Burkina Faso women potters with Daphne Corregan (works with the potters and selects pots for a Western African exhibition to be held in France).
Demonstrating at the ‘Rencontres de la Terre’, Bandol (France).
Visiting artist (January - March) at the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts, in Portland, OR. (USA).
Exhibits in Art Marché (Osaka, Japan) and works in an artist’s residence in the Bizen area.
Visiting artist in Fuping (China).
Visiting artist and workshop at the Archie Bray Foundation (Montana, USA).
Demonstrating in Gulgong, Australia.
Demonstrating at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre and North and South Wales Potters.
Visiting artist in Jingdezhen, China.
RECENT EXHIBITIONS 1995
Galerie du Vieux Bourg, Lonay Les Morges (Switzerland).
Galerie L'Ile en Terre, St Paul de Vence. Exhibits with the painter Jean Arène, Galerie Doudou Bayol, St Rémy de Provence.
Pottenbakker Museum, Tegelen (Holland).
Exposition ‘10 Artistes et la Terre’, Fréjus; Galerie Hamelin, Honfleur; Galerie Geneviève Godard, Lille; Galerie Hilde Holstein, Bremen (Germany).
Musée National de Sèvres; Millennium Exhibition, Amsterdam (Holland).
Galerie Granberger (Sweden); Maison de la Céramique Contemporaine, Giroussens; Galerie Ortillès-Fourcat, Paris; Die Galerie, Hüfingen (Germany).
Contemporary Crafts, Portland (OR – USA); Les Jarres, Atvidaberg (Sweden), ‘The Snake in the Garden’ (touring exhibition of European slipware, England); Galerie du Don (France).
‘Terre Vernissée’ exhibition, Maison de la Céramique en Lubéron;
Christel Gnirss Gallery, Emmendingen Mundingen (R.F.A.); Special exhibition in Draguignan, France, for the members of the James Renwick Alliance (Washington, D.C.) 2003
Regards sur la Céramique Contemporaine (3ème Biennale du Grand Pressigny), Contemporary Ceramics Gallery (London, UK).
Souvenir du Sud, Galerie Metzger (Johannesberg, Germany); Slipware (Rufford Craft Center, UK).
Exhibition with Daphne Corregan (Abbaye d'Arthous, France); Exhibition with Hans Fischer (Galerie Brigit Klee, Darmstadt, Germany); Exhibition in Bizen (Japan); Galerie Handwerk, Coblence (Germany).
Archie Bray Foundation (Montana, USA); Terre de Feu (Brest, France).
Gudgegong Gallery (Gulgong, Australia); solo exhibition, Centre de Création Céramique (La Borne, France); Galerie 22 (Gordes, France).
Galerie Collections (Paris); Retour de Fuping, Galerie Empreintes (Aydat, France); Keramik Masters (Munich, Germany), Galerie du Don (Montsalvy, France).
Galerie Empreintes (Aydat, France); Galerie Handwerk (Munich, Germany); Galerie du Don (Montsalvy, France); Galerie Metzger (Johannesberg, Germany); Bernard Leach Pottery (St Ives, England).
Galerie Geneviève Godar (Lille, France); SOFA New York; Yingge Museum (Taïwan).
Galerie de l’Ancienne Poste Toucy, France. Musée National de la Céramique de Sévres, France.
Le Rond dans l’Eau Biarritz, France. Galerie Geneviève Godar Peisey-Nancroix, France.
Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham, England. Musée de la Céramique de Sarreguemines, France.
Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham, Rutland, LE15 9SQ 01572 821424 Text: © David Whiting 2013 Photographs: © Jay Goldmark Design: Porter / Goldmark ISBN 978-1-909167-03-2 goldmarkart.com
GOLDMARK CERAMICS MONOGRAPHS 1
Phil Rogers New Pots 2005 2 Clive Bowen New Pots 2006 3 Lisa Hammond New Pots 2006 4 Mike Dodd Recent Pots 2007 5 Ken Matsuzaki (2007) Thirty Years of a Living Tradition 6 Svend Bayer (2007) New Pots 7 Jim Malone (2008) The Pursuit of Beauty 8 Phil Rogers (2008) A Potter of our Time 9 Lisa Hammond (2009) Unconscious Revelation 10 Ken Matsuzaki New Pots 2009 11 Mike Dodd New Pots 2009
12 Clive Bowen New Pots 2009 13 Svend Bayer New Pots 2010 14 Nic Collins New Pots 2011 15 Ken Matsuzaki New Pots 2011 16 Jim Malone New Pots 2011 17 Mike Dodd (2011) The Perceptive Spirit 18 Anne Mette Hjortshøj New Pots 2012 19 Lisa Hammond (2012) A Sense of Adventure 20 Svend Bayer Svend Bayer 2012 21 Jean-Nicolas Gérard Slipware 2013
GOLDMARK CERAMICS FILMS 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9
Phil Rogers - A Passion For Pots Ken Matsuzaki - Elemental Svend Bayer Nic Collins Jim Malone
Mike Dodd Anne Mette Hjortshøj Lisa Hammond Jean-Nicolas Gérard
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