Daniel Faria Gallery
To December 6, 2014
Quietly tucked away in the back room of this gallery sits a table adorned with ceramic vases numbering an even dozen. A peaceful, quiet arrangement that encourages the silent whispers of conversation that occur between them, each unique and with a life of their own, generous and willing to share. They impart the story of their making, their genesis and what it may mean to now exist. They reflect the hand and mind of their creator, his decisions and choices and the physical evidence of the moment life was breathed into these former lumps of moist earth. They also seem to be the perfect size. Made by hand and pick-up-able by hand, they embody the perfect expression of a practical, harmonious logic.
Muted earthy yellows, deep cobalt blues, cool whites, rusty iron oxides and warm brown siennas dominate, particularly appropriate when examining the process of their making, which is in turn elemental and organic in nature. Earth, fire, water and air are the components of their creation, divined and manipulated by the artist in the service of expressing a relationship between human consciousness and the non-sentient ingredients of his craft. A perfect and concise illustration of the eternal artistic struggle. How to breathe life into that which has none?
Since 1969, Ngan has worked out of his isolated studio on Hornby Island off mainland B.C. Completely immersed in nature, Ngan’s holistic practice has been one dominated by an essentialist connection to nature and material. That is to say, the acceptance that objects are what they are as defined by the nature of their substance. The artist allows thing to come into being, allowing the virtues of the material to define in large part the formal outcome. There is no battle waged against the clay, no suppression of its natural proclivities, just an allowance of the medium to re-present itself in a form that is not in conflict with the terms and attributes which define it in the first place. Isolated at times for weeks on end, Ngan creates for himself the opportunity to completely immerse himself in his practice, free to work and progress without the crass interruptions of technology − he doesn’t own a computer − and commercialism. The artist himself has described it as freedom from “all unnecessary relationships”, a conscious and intentional exclusion of the trivial distractions that relentlessly bombard the denizens of contemporary existence.
In the Zen Buddhist sense, this is where the artist is allowed to find “flow.” To work continually and without interruption, always learning and developing but never grasping total comprehension. A finely tuned sense of humility and wonder, both of which can be felt and experienced when encountering the work of this masterful ceramicist.
Romas Astrauskas, an MFA graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York, is a Toronto-based artist and writer. He has exhibited extensively throughout the city, participating in numerous group and solo shows within the commercial gallery circuit. His work has also been displayed in several museum surveys, including appearances at the Power Plant (Toronto), Plug-Institute (Winnipeg) and the Art and Culture Centre of Hollywood. Examples of work from his eclectic and varied output can be found in several prominent private and corporate collections. He is currently preparing for a solo show in October at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects.