Side Gallery

Side Gallery







Side Gallery is thrilled to announce a new exhibition at the gallery space in Barcelona about the work by Venezuelan ceramic artist Cristina Merchán (1927-1987),presenting a series of vases defined by the mastery of avoid shapes and geometric precision, painted with satin and matte enamels to achieve monochrome tones and burned at high temperatures. The exhibition will feature a collection of works coming from the Fina Gómez Collection that were exhibited in Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 1991, offering visitors a unique opportunity to appreciate the exceptional stoneware craftsmanship embodied in each of the works. the purity of the forms.

"I clung to the universe of things…" Cristina Merchán

IN HER OWN WORDS by Cristina Merchan

I started learning and making ceramics when I was rejected by painting. I had friends there, and they, armed with fierce abstractions, were categorical: the easel painting was dead, everyone felt only disapproval towards the figures, the significant spots that resembled plants, the dreams, and the unreal animals that I
was painting. I clung to the universe of things. I loved the presence and the gentleness of what participates in everyday life.

Ceramics asserted themselves in my eyes as an object. It mingled with daily life, with a denser reality, more prosperous than the one that seemed to be mine until then. It did not lend itself to evasions or loopholes. She had never allowed herself to be contaminated by metaphysics. During the long quest for singular accents among eternal forms - the language of wheel ceramics - I felt surrounded by a world of bare lines. It was necessary to stick to an objectivity which demanded absolute respect. Attentive to technique and my training as a ceramist, this world of things imposed its obedience on me, its rhythm, in the manner of a rite set on the officiant.

The field of research into materials was so vast that the discovery of this inexhaustible universe gave me the feeling that it took several lifetimes to enter even a little into these unknown territories. I crossed them, holding the fire by the bridle as one tries to contain a wild foal.
The completed work was the sign of a pact, of a truce. Then the fight was renewed with the following piece until the fire returned to me an unexpected material or
it submitted to the realization of a work long besieged by it and desired by me.

I felt that, in the intensity of the tower pieces, in the slightest variation of materials and colours, the breath of my energy passed implicitly. Certain times, however,
these pieces gave me an astonishment, which, without denying it, touched me like nostalgia: another world was trying to emerge and to escape or postpone it would have been to betray it. These turned shapes forced me to differentiate this energy, to distinguish what the shape expressed by itself. I had to associate it with my own need for expression, and the modulations of these two energies were strangled in the circles of the lathe. I avoided this need for expression and delayed its attacks for an extended period. I did not dare to alter.

I told myself that they would be accomplished like things. I feared the barrier, which, according to the teachings received, considered ceramics an absolute volume or a functional object. I viewed the free form, especially the figure, as a separate sculptural problem. Sometimes, tired of the inevitable beauty of pure forms, I dreamed of deliberately ugly works, smoking, mysterious and provocative objects...

The magic of precise shapes brought me back to the trick with devotion. I concentrated on perpetuating myself in this ancient ceremony, which consists of raising a living spiral, a spiral which embraces a space, encloses it, and keeps it in its mystery. A spiral that, springing from our hands, returns to matter, a spiral in the image of a tense and silent song that rises and blooms, becomes a pure object and remains sacred for water, air, and the flower.
I didn’t know if I would just do modeled outlines or if I would start lathe pieces again. Friends asked me the question. I only knew that I would continue my work as a ceramist. There was then a long wait. I told myself that we had to free ceramics from its functional character and submission to art. I was not without knowing that, finding myself between scales and mortars, I would gradually see the appearance of the forms which already accompanied and in which my need for expression and dialogue would be fulfilled.