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Vases through the Ages

From the 16th century to today, from Asia to Europe, discover seven highlights at TEFAF Online
Galerie Marc Heiremans - Carlo Scarpa Laccato vase (Laquered), Designed 1940, this execution post-war
This Chinese porcelain vase in the kinrande style is nearly 450 years old. Its decoration with a bright red enamel contrasting with gold foil designs creates a powerful visual and tactile experience known as kinrande– a Japanese word for ‘gold brocade design’. Produced in small numbers for less than 70 years, kinrande is one of the rarest styles of Chinese porcelain. Yet, despite its scarcity, kinrande wares had an extraordinarily broad appeal, with pieces being acquired in the 16th century by powerful individuals in places as diverse as Japan, the Americas, Europe and Ottoman Turkey. Incidentally, the only comparable surviving vase in a public collection appears to be a vase in the Museum of Oriental Ceramics in Osaka.
During the Italian Renaissance, the works of goldsmithing and jewellery were perhaps among the most desired and collected by the most influential nobility in Europe. The meeting point between the highest level of artistic craftsmanship and the preciousness of materials. Very few courts in Europe could afford of owning more than one. Never repeated, always different, it was an escalating challenge to the quest of the most beautiful and precious one. From the rarest Jaspers to the Lapis lazuli to the Rock Crystal, it was a triumph of fascinating and refined amazement. Such a large specimen was selected by the Miseroni workshop in Milan to be sublimated in the highest concept of a precious jewel-cup, in an extreme show off of mastery in filing such a thin and light artifact in wavy and grooved shapes. Created to enrich a Wunderkammer, or as sophisticated diplomatic gift, this work is unique in form, and still retains its original lid, moulded from the material extracted from the inside of the cup, so as to maintain similar colors and veins.
The bottle vases were exclusively made for August the Strong or his son August III. They were used either for decoration in the ‘Turmzimmer’ or in the Japanese palace or as royal gifts. The type of this vase is characterized by a rich, magnificent ‘Indian’ flower painting in brilliant colors. The motif occurs in three different variations: with one bird sitting on a branch (as on our vase), with a pair of birds or just flowers without birds.
In 1940, the architect Carlo Scarpa developed for Venini a new production technique which he applied in a series of bi-coloured objects, the so-called Laccati rossi-neri. The complexity and the cost of the production process made that only a very limited number of these objects was ever executed. As most of Carlo Scarpa’s technical ideas were elaborate, and thus costly, very few objects of his series were executed during the time they were actually conceived. Presented at the XXII Biennial of Venice in 1940, a wider distribution of- among others - the Laccati was obstructed by the outbreak of the war. The majority of Carlo Scarpa’s series (among which Tessuti, Laccati, Fasce applicate, Pennellate and A fili , all developed before 1940) were therefore commercialized only after the Second World War and produced throughout the 1950s.
This object is a unique hand-built vessel.Magdalene Odundo’s ceramics are distinguished by the exceptional precision of their construction, as she deliberately eliminates the irregulates that are characteristic of the coiling technique. After hand-building a vessel, she carefully smooths the walls and polishes the clay when it is as hard as leather, repeating this technique many times in order to achieve a burnished finish. Symmetrical Vase, 2016/17 has been constructed using this method and was fired in an oxidizing atmosphere turning the work red-orange—a technique used by the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Rather than using glazes, which essentially seal the vessel’s surface, Odundo uses a terra sigillata slip, which is an ultra-refined mixture of clay that can give a soft sheen when applied to earthenware. After burnishing the surface with stones and polishing tools, she fires her sculptures in a gas kiln, controlling the amount of oxygen in order to determine whether they remain bright orange (oxidizing), or turn iridescent black (reduction firing). Made with terracotta clay, this work has been fired multiple times in an oxidized kiln in order to achieve its vibrant orange color.
The Diamond Vase comes from the Vamblers, three dimensional vase-like objects from folded paper, which were made as part of the color research exhibition ‘Breathing Colour’ at the Design Museum in London in 2017, and at the Boijmans Van Beuninghen Museum in Rotterdam in 2018. The facetted surfaces of the large porcelain vase refer to this folding technique, and are combined with a textured pattern that is meticulously carved out of the porcelain by hand. This monumental vase is carrying a mix of colors and patterns, which are quintessentially Hella. The bold colors are placed on the objects in blocks. Hella works on a multiple range which evokes different hours of the day. Layers of matte and shiny glaze are overlapping each other, creating layered colors.
Hiroshi Suzuki works intuitively, rarely designing his work before he commences the making process. He hammers each of his vessels from a single flat sheet of his favourite material, Fine Silver. Using a wide selection of hammers, he raises every vessel ‘over air’. He then adds incredible surface detail through chasing the metal; cultivating sinuous lines and undulations to reference the elements – his source of inspiration. Finally the raised edges and rim are burnished to create a series of highly reflective highlights – bringing the piece to life. The vessel chosen by Adrian Sassoon for TEFAF’s online edition is a star example from Suzuki’s most recent work. Although he studied and spent the first ten years of his career in the UK, he has now returned to live in Japan where he completes his work before sending it to the UK for hallmarking.
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