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Sprayed and Glazed Ceramics
by Maxwell Mustardo, USA

 

It is easy to be seduced by the graphic and classical imagery of Maxwell’s work, but to stop there would be to do yourself a disservice. The underlying theme of the artists work is not obvious, but the interplay of form and surface is foundational. The artist’s “standard” form, the toroid (a donut-like shape), is ideal as a vehicle for observing surface, as in any given position it reveals gradations of lighting effects. With the toroid providing a baseline, manipulated classical forms add a layer of complexity to the form-surface dynamic.

Maxwell clearly revels in playfully transforming iconic forms, in particular the amphora. Throughout history and across cultures, the vessel has stoon as a metaphor for the human body. The classical handled amphora of the Greco-Roman tradition, courtesy of its akimbo-like handles, is perhaps the most quintessentially anthropomorphic. Poking and prodding to push tradition to excess, Maxwell swells the proportions to a cartoonish and pudgy scale and affords the handles subtly lively positions. The dichotomy of surface-form is deepened by the metaphorical reading; sometimes quite literally, the surface of Maxwell’s amphora displays a skin-like quality in their glazing, or as clothing with the colorful sprayed rubber coatings. It is no accident that Maxwell often creates and presents his amphorae in groupings of several; they are more than a anthropomorphic, they are socio-morphic, representing individuals within a society. One can enjoy Maxwell’s work on a technical and formally aesthetic level, as he invites us to with the toroids, or on multiple levels of sociological and cultural commentary from body, identity, fashion