by Sura Wood
Tuesday Jan 21, 2020
“Handsome Drifter” (2015) by Ron Nagle. Ceramic, glaze, catalyzed polyurethane, and adhesive resin. Collection of Joachim and Nancy Hellman Bechtle. Photo: BAMPFA
Mischief is Ron Nagle’s average name. The Bay breadth artist, artist and songwriter, who has the destructive mind-set of a cartoonist, a abandoned faculty of amusement and the artfulness and insubordinate spirit of a Surrealist, has been bearing luminously bright miniature bowl sculptures back the 1960s. Those agreeable saturated colors, alignment from heart-racing, deeper-than-deep magentas to the crumbling celebrity of an black sky cautiously melting into twilight, owe article to the low-fire slip-casting techniques that accept become his signature. The 80-year-old San Francisco native, the son of parents he has alleged “Fascists” and a mother who declared him talent-free, grew up in the Mission District and has a flat in Bernal Heights. Back acclaim arrived, it came late. It wasn’t until 2013, back he was included in the Venice Biennale, that he acquired the all-embracing acceptance that had eluded him.
“Handsome Drifter,” his aboriginal analysis in 25 years, is now at BAMPFA. The show’s name was aggressive by the bananas killer, masquerading as a preacher, played by Robert Mitchum in Charles Laughton’s 1955 blur “The Night of the Hunter.” The bad-natured character’s duke were tattooed with belletrist spelling out adulation and hate, emblematic of oppositional forces, such as abasement and beauty, that underlie Nagle’s work.
The new appearance of 27 amusing sculptures and 16 assets and doodles, some sketched on lined anthology cardboard and destined for carve immortality, picks up area the aftermost one larboard off. A adept glazer fractional to alive in a alternation format, he pinches and molds clay, revolting, like his backward mentor, the anarchistic UC Berkeley art assistant Peter Voulkos, adjoin the borders of acceptable ceramics practices. He’s absolutely no drifter to active delicate, obsessively abundant assignment on tiny “canvases” that can be captivated in the approach of one’s hand, a holdover from his teens, back he fabricated adornment that took a cue from the Beats.
The exhibition’s cool, all-white minimalist installation, advised by Yves Behar, encloses artworks central bottle boxes and spotlights them from above, as if they were adored gems on affectation at Tiffany’s. Except these babies are bookish damaging accessories and a tad warped, in the best accessible way. The recessed exhibition cases arena the allowance and additionally beleaguer a albino copse access in the centermost of the gallery. Note: a accompaniment advertisement organizes the altar chronologically; the appearance does not.
The Bad Clown (2003) by Ron Nagle. Porcelain, glaze, ceramics paint, and adhesive resin. Dennis Gallagher and Trish Bransten Family Collection. Photo: BAMPFA
Nagle traffics in antic pop-culture references, from surfing and bedrock music to movies and hot rods, that can veer against aphotic amusement and the macabre. Though he cites all-embracing influences such as ceramicist Kenneth Price, painters Giorgio Morandi, Josef Albers and Philip Guston, Japanese Momoyama ceramics and Abstract Expressionism’s “embrace of the imperfect,” it’s the punning, sometimes annoying titles that Nagle awards his creations that acquaint the devilish tale. Take “Urninerouble” (2015), a high-sheen, cracker-sized aboveboard slathered in a actuality akin broiled American cheese that additionally drips over the abandon of a baby gray egg-shaped platform. (For Nagle, cheese is alike with success.)
He formed about alone with ceramics until 2010, back he began accumulation polyurethane and resin, as he did in “Handsome Drifter” (2015), the mini-sculpture that gives the appearance its name. It’s a stunner, with a arced fan-shape the blush of a scarlet Southern California dusk at its apex, and two reptilian cords absorbed to it, positioned like the calmly of a clock. Red rivulets bleed over the sky dejected base, whose apparent is “air-brushed” with anemic violet through a action Nagle calls cross-fading.
“The Ice Queen” (2005), a bequest to his bloom canicule back he ancient blue teacups, is a lopsided, hourglass-shaped bubbler barge with a pinkish afterglow and red-and-black playing-card triangles fit for Alice in Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts. One can calmly brainstorm her adopting it and uttering a activation “Off with their heads!” From the evocatively blue-blooded Snuff Bottles alternation comes the amusingly pornographic “Bad Clown” (2003), a brace of nubile, baby-blue ceramics orbs, as clear-cut as glass, absolute with a fat blooming strategically placed in the middle. Might it be some alien’s estimation of an Ice Cream Sundae?
Nagle can go visceral, a affection added by his accomplished layering of colors. Triggered by the afterimage of his father’s bark tags, the bilious-tone “Beirut Canal” (2009), which resembles a billfold, is belted in amethyst and pocked with indentations from the artist’s fingertips. “Fortgang” (2002) has the roughened, asperous arrangement of adhesive or a sponge. Its hues are a mossy blooming bistro about the abject and assorted shades of tangerine, an admiration to his Mission District childhood. A seashell head crowns the rear, while a debilitated member, or conceivably a bending arm larboard abaft by a ancient starfish, lazes in the front. Go ahead: let your acuteness run wild.
Through June 14. www.bampfa.org
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