DETAIL: Toots ZYNSKY 'Pennellata' 2004, 'Filet de Verre' fused and thermoformed colour glass threads
Adrian SAXE | Nirvanarrhea

SAXE, Adrian
USA 1943
Nirvanarrhea 2002
glazed stoneware, earthenware, porcelain; wood
160.0 (h) x 81.0 (w) x 76.0 (d) cm
NGA 2005.946
Photographer: Anthony Cuhna

Adrian Saxe has long explored the territory of historicised objects held aloft on sculpted pedestals. In Nirvanarrhea he has elevated a group of gourd-like vessels onto a lifting device composed of three-dimensional clouds that are based on the cloud patterns seen on Chinese porcelain. However, Saxe’s dark, coarse, clay clouds are grounded in the manner of the rockwork of eighteenth-century French rococo porcelain, subterranean and coral-like in their ultramarine depth. The lustred vessels balanced upon this structure extend this illusion with their fleshy attenuated forms, variations of gold glazes and sparkling inclusions of gemstones.Nirvanarrhea exists as a gold-glazed presence, a gilded and bejewelled organism inviting us into a hallucinatory tableau in which the natural and the artificial cross territories. The work evokes the wonder with which Europeans first encountered Asian art and their construction of the Chinoiserie that elevated its stylistic conventions to arcane exoticism. Saxe’s subversive humour floats around this complex object, liberating it from historicism and dogma to allow us to engage with its erotic subtext.

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