Posted on December 4, 2013 by School of Art
Review: Kvapil’s ceramic vessels vehicles for color and texture
By Leah Ollman
November 21, 2013, 4:30 p.m.
Jay Kvapil’s new, variably intriguing ceramic work at Couturier is largely about surface — viscous, painterly glazes and cratered shells. With only a few exceptions, the vessel forms are understated and conventional. They call little attention to themselves and instead serve as vehicles for potent color and assertive texture.
Kvapil titled an earlier series “Pictorial Vessels,” making explicit the priority given to surface as bearer of image or mark. Several works here continue in that vein, their glazes like thick, draping garments extending below the cylindrical body of a cup or vase. One small vase, sheathed in sapphire streaks and flecked with tiny spots of light presents as a hand-held moody nightscape.
Director of the School of Art at Cal State Long Beach (a notable incubator of talent in ceramics), Kvapil experiments avidly with glazes and the results can be striking. The surface of a shapely, 15-inch-high bottle with a pinched waist is delicately puckered like the skin that forms on heated milk. Small, weeping puddles of blood red startle against jade-tinged ivory.
Most of the 60-plus bowls and bottles, jars and pods have densely-pocked skins evocative of elemental forces and geological processes, volcanic events and lunar crusts. They emanate heat and change. Kvapil’s palette is intense and can verge on garish and dated, but plenty of dazzlers can be found in the mix. Among the most striking is a large (28-inch diameter) broad bowl that looks like barely cooled magma. Pitted black and fiery red, it seems to be smoldering still.
Couturier Gallery, 166 N. La Brea Ave., (323) 933-5557, through Nov. 30.
Closed Sunday and Monday. www.couturiergallery.com