The Wondrously Defiant Art of Contemporary Ceramics

Installation view of Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art at the Hayward Gallery, London. Pictured: Klara Kristalova, “Far From Here,” detail (2022)

LONDON — Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art is a bold move by the Hayward Gallery: many will remember the shock at Grayson Perry’s Turner Prize win in 2003, entering the (then) most cutting edge contemporary competition with this most underused, humble medium. And yet of the 23 international artists on view, he and the show’s other best known ceramicist, Edmund de Waal, are arguably the least compelling — demonstrating that curator Dr. Cliff Lauson has gone all out for high visual impact in his other selection. He’s brought together artists from all over the globe and works that span a range of topics, from “architecture to social justice, the body, the domestic, the political and the organic,” according to its press release. How, then, from a curatorial perspective, can the show make cohesive sense, for the audience to better grasp the discipline and its recent history? The answer is, through pieces so proudly disparate, tactile, and wondrously defiant of categorization that it doesn’t matter.

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