Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pao-Fei Yang's saggar-fired ceramics

Lexington potter Pao-Fei Yang is an inspiring artist and an example of how an artist’s need to express cannot be contained. Initially trained as a painter, a serious car accident in 1983 left Yang unable to focus her eyes and forced her to give up painting. The more tactile qualities required for clay, however, proved to be the perfect outlet. Not only did ceramics provide a sense of healing in her own life but it became the channel for visually stunning and conceptually appealing work. And in a medium rarely associated with representational work, the former painter found a new brush.

Recently 13FOREST has acquired some of Yang’s pit-fired work. These pieces
are produced through a firing method known as saggar firing. In this process ceramic work is placed within a larger vessel with other combustible material and then the larger vessel is placed inside a kiln. This creates a very specific atmosphere within the saggar which Yang skillfully uses to achieve her unique synthesis of abstract and representational elements.

The abstract colors and patterns come from the smoke and fire
of the burning material surrounding the piece while the formal elements are created by placing a thin metal sheet on the surface of the clay. The piece of metal can be cut to resemble any form - often horses and crows appear in the work - and the metal then resists the smoke and ash to some degree leaving the form of the metal piece outlined in the clay surface beneath. This wonderful combination of elements allows for the creation of the haunting, symbolic landscapes that have become the signature of the artist’s pit-fired pieces. We’re thrilled to be representing such innovative and compelling work.

-Phil Scheer and Marc Gurton

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