Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Centerpiece

If Sleep, In Spite of the Storm is an exhibition about the intimate relationship, then the two large crematory urns in the middle of the space serve as principal anchors.  This post is about their story.

Peter Pincus' upcoming exhibition, "Sleep, In Spite of the Storm"

The urns installed and photographed in the gallery before any other work was made.

Before any other work was made for this show, I carefully researched, blueprinted, scaled, fabricated, finished, and photographed them in the gallery.  Excessive, right?  Not at all!  They are vessels of spirit that, just like the hand mirror, have a reflective quality for the viewer.  Done right, they oscillate between container, painting, and figure sculpture.  What a job they have.

I intended them to be independent and dependent at the same time.  It started with the form, which took from Sevres Porcelain the idea of symmetric, tight, articulate profile, but stripped the surface of the type of glamorous opulence that defines Sevres.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with opulence!  But it would be distracting in this particular vessel.

Photograph taken from http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/13368797_pair-sevres-style-25-porcelain-cobalt-urns

Photograph taken from http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/13368797_pair-sevres-style-25-porcelain-cobalt-urns

I designed the forms and lid system and built them in five separate molds.  Having never made such a large slip-cast vessel before, I planned to fire each section separately and then glue the pieces together at the end.  I couldn’t help myself though, I had to cast one in white and see it.  My wife patiently held the sections together at 6am so I could snap an Instagram photo.

The urn in early morning white.

The urn in early morning white.

I planned to have their surfaces reference Josef Albers, whose theories on color routinely find their way into my work.  I cast one urn in white and the other in black, and composed identical gradients of vertical stripes from white to black on their bellies, leaving a gray rectangle centered on the white and black stripe of each piece.  This is a carbon copy of chapter IV from Albers’ Interaction of Color, “A color has many faces—the relativity of color.”

Not the greatest example, but you get the point.  Taken from http://joshsmilingskull.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/albers-exercises/

Not the greatest example, but you get the point. Taken from http://joshsmilingskull.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/albers-exercises/

Urns in  process.

Urns in process.

When installed, the stripes are turned opposite each other, forcing the gray rectangles to show different faces; lighter on black and darker on white.  Thus the appearance of independence. But, if you separate them the phenomenon doesn’t work. So, they become very dependent on each other to maintain their individuality.

An alternate view of the urns in the exhibition

An alternate view of the urns in the exhibition

An alternate view of the urns in the exhibition

Part One: Inside the Artist’s Studio: Introducing Peter Pincus
Part Two: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: How Long is a Long Time?
Part Four: Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Pincus: Cracks in the Foundation

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