From May 7-June 4, the Frank Lloyd Gallery will present On the Wall, an exhibition of wall-mounted ceramic sculpture by John Mason, Peter Voulkos, Peter Shire and Ralph Bacerra. The geometric wall reliefs of Mason and the vigorous roughhewn plates of Voulkos will be on view, along with dazzling platters by Bacerra and whimsical, painterly plates by Shire.
This exhibition demonstrates the ways in which contemporary ceramic artists address sculptural wall relief. The works in the exhibition include extensions of the traditional plate form as well as works that are purely sculptural. Three masterful plates by the late Peter Voulkos exhibit the artist's skillful manipulation of massive chunks of clay. The thick, sculptural discs are activated by deeply incised lines and heavily encrusted surfaces. At the other end of the spectrum is Bacerra, who extends the decorative tradition and merges it with ideas taken from 20th century painting. Bacerra presents two richly decorated square platters as well as a large plate with an interlocking bird motif. Peter Shire presents an assortment of large plates from his Winged Victory series. The surfaces of Shire's plates are populated with whimsical winged figures floating in expressive washes of color. John Mason, a contemporary of Voulkos, eschews the plate form altogether, creating elegant, reductive wall reliefs that reflect his interests geometry. These works continue Mason's exploration of concepts of translation, inversion, reflection and symmetry.
Voulkos, Mason, Shire and Bacerra are part of a rich tradition of innovative ceramic sculpture on the West Coast. Voulkos, who instigated the "ceramic revolution" of the 1950s, left an indelible legacy. In an obituary for the New York Times, Roberta Smith wrote, "During his 50-year career Mr. Voulkos was influential as a thinker, teacher and fearless innovator who followed a constantly changing course." John Mason, now a major Los Angeles artist, emerged in the 1950s when he shared a studio with Voulkos and had several solo exhibitions at the legendary Ferus Gallery. Ralph Bacerra, known for his technical prowess and sophisticated design sensibility, is a Los Angeles-based artist who has exhibited professionally since the 1960s. Peter Shire, who studied under Bacerra at the Chouinard Art Institute, was born and raised in Los Angeles. He is known for his work with the Italian design group Memphis, as well as for his public sculpture, which can be seen throughout Los Angeles.