The new exhibition at Ariana Museum is very bold and very surprising. Two contemporary masters in the art and science of working clay are strutting their best beautiful stuff. Akio Takamori’s “Portraits ordinaires” (Ordinary portraits) and Jean Fontaine’s “En fer sur terre” (a clever untranslatable play-on-words in French about iron, hell, clay and planet Earth) combine for an absolute must-be-there opening on 26th September. We have produced a little video-montage to whet your appetites.
The contrast between the two exhibitions – wisely kept separate – can only be described as abrupt or even humorous. The beauty of Takamori’s ordinary Japanese portraits lies in their extraordinary ordinariness. The sleeping figures all sleep … well… ordinarily! The adolescents show all the lingering anxiety that ordinary adolescents feel. If you are tempted to walk around these figures and move on, just walk around them again and pause. It took me a minute or two to appreciate these delicate, smooth and subtly coloured works with their admirable correctness of poise and form. The display platform for Takamori’s work is made of industrial wooden palates; it contrasts brutally with the sumptuous ambience of the Ariana. The next weeks will tell whether this attracts applause or censure.
Take the lift or climb the stairs and you will find a large room filled with Fontaine’s truly magnificent creations. Prepare for something that is more than surprising. When I walked in there, what I saw hit me in the guts. In each ceramic work, ordinary things are bizarrely juxtaposed to fabulous effect. I offer here a few of the words that tore through my befuddled senses. Mesmerising. Fantastic. Absurd. Laugh-out-loud. Monstrous. Accomplished. Inspired. Inspiring. Masterful.
And there is more! You are encouraged to feel Fontaine’s work. Let your hands find the words to do the rest of the talking about this truly beautiful stuff! This exhibition is a wonderful experience. Don’t miss it!