Romanian Biennale – two thumbs up!

Cluj catalog-cover_jpg

Just back from Cluj, the capital of Transylvania, Romania where I participated in the First International Ceramics Biennale held at the National Museum of Art.

The National Museum of Art, a magnificent baroque building that unfortunately has seen better days…
The National Museum of Art, a magnificent baroque building that unfortunately has seen better days…

As a vehicle for displaying the very latest innovations and trends, a Biennale is defined by high expectations. One expects to be exposed to the crème de la crème of contemporary art, and the Cluj Biennale offered a mouth-watering smorgasbord of some of the finest contemporary ceramic works being produced today. Ceramic artists around the globe continue to defy clay’s limitations, pushing their material into new frontiers and incorporating audio and video elements, found objects, wood, wire, leaves, porcupine quills, photography and embroidery.

Jeffrey Mongrain's iris projection at the base of the ceramic vessel
Jeffrey Mongrain’s iris projection at the base of the ceramic vessel
Bogdan Teodorescu's poignant chipped deer figurine looking at it's broken antler
Bogdan Teodorescu’s poignant chipped deer figurine looking at its broken antler

The range of works was truly impressive. Giant vessels stood like sentinels as mobiles floated from the ceiling. Pedestals sported tiny figurines that were dwarfed by billboard-sized wall pieces. Translucent slivers of porcelain shared the limelight with crude stoneware sculptures; crackled, encrusted glazes competed with impeccably airbrushed surfaces. Beside a pile of unfired clay decomposing on a tabletop, contorted altered forms lay within reach of sculpted torsos inlaid with words and symbols.

A catalogue from the exhibition is available on the Cluj Biennale website. More glimpses below:

Cluj trip oct 2013 (102)



Cluj trip oct 2013 (97)


My piece 'Lock, Stock and Barrel' turned out to be quite a talking point!
My piece ‘Lock, Stock and Barrel’ turned out to be quite a talking point!

The accompanying Symposium on the Arts of Fire included informative presentations from Iceland, Latvia, Austria, Israel, United States, Canada, Belgium, Brazil, Romania and Turkey. My presentation on the Balance of Concept and Aesthetics was very well received, with some possible international invitations on the horizon.

Cluj trip oct 2013 (29)

The Biennale organizers had a final surprise in store for the artists – an unexpected cocktail held in a magnificent former casino in the middle of the Central Park, with a folk dance troupe to entertain us!


Cluj itself is a lovely city, even showing off with a magnificent rainbow and delicious croissants for breakfast!


Cluj trip oct 2013 (33)

I wouldn't say no to a return visit - here's to the 2015 Cluj Biennale!!!
I wouldn’t say no to a return visit – here’s to the 2015 Cluj Biennale!!!

PS. For an extra treat , check out this 30-second youtube video I made of a fabulous contemporary ceramics gallery I visited in Bucharest.

Photos courtesy of Alan Merbaum.

Off to Romania by the seat of my pants!

Lock, stock and barrel (detail) (1) - Copy

Who would have thought that a seemingly innocent pair of underpants could snowball into an exciting artistic opportunity? Well, admittedly, I did make them out of porcelain and yes, I did go further with this work to make a statement about the frightening increase of legislation in the US dictating what a woman can and cannot decide about her own body. It infuriates me. The finished work (below) incorporates a rusted lock (found in Mexico) all too reminiscent of the days of chastity belts…

casting a shadow (5)

This is one of two works that were selected by a very prestigious panel of judges to be exhibited at the International Ceramic Biennale in Cluj, Romania:

Unfortunately I had to withdraw my second work selected, an installation entitled If the Shoe Fits…Buy It  because of the punishing shipping costs 😦

If the shoe fits installation view

Thanks to some frequent flyer points, I will be attending the Museum’s grand opening on October 9th, as well as being an invited speaker during the three-day symposium following the Biennale’s opening. This is a very exciting opportunity; I intend to present a lecture entitled ‘The Balance of Concept and Aesthetics in Narrative Ceramic Installation’.

Cluj Napoca Romania

Cluj being the capital of Transylvania (!) I am sure I will come back with some great pix to share.