Artereal Gallery is excited to present Back from outer space, a solo exhibition of new works by Sydney based artist and ceramicist Luke Ryan O’Connor.
An artist in residence at Kil.n.it Experimental Ceramic Studios (known for their explorative, avant-garde attitude to the production of fine art ceramics), O’Connor is fast establishing a reputation for himself as an artist whose practice involves utilising the traditional utilitarian language of ceramics and reconfiguring it in imaginative and alternative ways.
Back from outer space, its title extracted from Gloria Gaynor’s queer anthem, I Will Survive, is an equally defiant and triumphant paean from ceramic artist Luke Ryan O’Connor. The artist acknowledges his ceramic creations as “a reckoning of his queer experience. “… a celebration of interruption and the unconventional… and a site for experimentation.”
Accretions; lumps, bumps, growths, additions, deposits, appendages, have always been part of Luke Ryan’s objects but previously were forms that he fashioned from solid clay. Now they are hollow, slip cast forms created from found objects in a process that retains their surface stories and textures of stipples and scars. He gathers rocks, broken bricks and fragments of building rubble, seeking out discards and remnants that have a former history. Materials he says: “… would otherwise be discarded or unnoticed.” His latest body of work introduces Luke’s expressionistic use of thick, opaque viscous glazes that slump, slip and ooze like creamy candle wax; the coagulations dripping and undulating like iced confections off selected peg-like splinters and body parts jutting from the vessel surfaces.
Although they hint at conventional ceramic forms, Luke Ryan O’Connor’s works alludes to an alchemical and experimental process during which it has metamorphosised in to something else. Cryptic, mysterious and alluringly tactile, each piece is an embodiment of something simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar.
The appendages are reborn in gaudy sheen, dolled-up in metallic drag queen glitz of gold and platinum lustre, dressing up and texturing the curves and surfaces of his otherwise conventional wheel thrown vessels.” They also bring a kind of ‘neo-archaeology’ to his extra-terrestrial looking works. Acknowledging the centuries–long and cyclical connection of ceramics, often only as shards, as the material evidence of daily lives and apocalyptic events for archaeologists
Slip casting from carved Styrofoam shapes has enabled the creation of small, ceramic pedestals to be an integral element of his shelf-based ceramics and to extend the idea of display. Lattice-like wooden plinths, customized by colour and form to individual objects have been distinctive of his practice and presentation of his works. He aspires to next achieve large-scale ceramic floor plinths.
Luke Ryan O’Connor is in the tradition of nineteenth–century artisan potters who worked with Spode or Minton and had an independent creative practice beyond the production-ware made in their employers’ works. He combines his day job with Mud Australia, producers of handmade Australian porcelain home-wares with his busy studio practice and a program of exhibiting his ceramics in Australia and Europe.