Author: Ronan Bouroullec. Publisher: Nieves, 2022. ISBN: 9783907179444. Format: Softback, 195 x 255 mm, 24pp.
We could look at Ronan Bouroullec’s ceramic bas-reliefs and see traces of a language we recognize: the silhouettes of familiar objects, the contours of known landscapes. We might be tempted to look at the work as an alphabet of mere things, think of the pieces “objectively.” But as tableaux, the reliefs are not quite right: one has an edge that goes too far, another a circle that’s off-center and about to roll, and still another, a pinkish mass that could topple over.
Bouroullec’s work is most rewarding if we listen as it asks for a new language altogether. Languages have always been born from clay (one thinks of cuneiform seals); it’s easy to believe that Bouroullec is developing his own. At the very least, these pieces – somewhere at the intersection between painting, sculpture, and design – demand new verbs, words like “bevel” and “disintegrate.” (And it’s possible, the works say, that there is nothing so lovely as a beveled edge: the way they taper is like a caress. The way they dissolve onto a background feels digital and also deeply analogue. These effects are both visual and tactile, as in: we see them and we want to touch them.)
"The compositions can speak because they are alive, masses of ceramic breathing in a metal atmosphere, on a planet that is strange but inviting. Like other languages, Bouroullec’s seems to have a grammar. Forms repeat and the palette is consistent, like a dialect. Where there are slight variations, the works prove the rule. Some compositions get repeated and flipped upside down. Bouroullec’s process is also inherently syntactical: while the finished works have the appearance of precise composition, they’re arranged ex post facto from separately formed elements. Bouroullec assembles the reliefs only after the individual elements are fired; some inevitably break in the kiln. Like sentences, Bouroullec’s compositions are sequences of fixed parts. Like poetry, they’re subject to randomness." - Josh Ascherman