George Adams Gallery has mounted an exhibition of the work of George Ohr and Ron Nagle. Each had been known, in their time, for making work deemed groundbreaking and “outrageous.” George Ohr worked in the early 20th century, and turned pottery on its head, making vessels that toyed with all the traditional notions of pottery. He mixed glazes with wild enthusiasm, creating colors and textures that literally had never been seen before.
Ron Nagle has been making outrageously beautiful sculptures since the early 1970’s. They inhabit a universe unto themselves, adhering to a logic that only they (and Nagle) understand. Small and precious they take the idea of vessels, in particular cups, and work and re-work the concepts inherent in the idea of a ‘cup’ until abstraction overtakes the object. The surfaces are delicately airbrushed with layer upon layer of thin veils of color. The sculptures pulse and glow. Often there is the thinnest thread of hard edge brilliant color that runs along a plane of a sculpture. Blink and you miss it. Blink again and it suggests a shape emerging out of the mass of glaze that you never imagined was there.
Pairing the two is in concept an intriguing conceit- both artists work on a similar scale and both play with the idea of vessel. But in this match up of the two, I’m sorry to say, it is Nagle’s work that really stands up over the years. The Ohr pieces look very tame and very much like pots next to Nagle’s sophisticated visions. For the most part the gallery has paired two to a pedestal, which creates a gentle give and take between the objects, but they never electrify one another. It’s the Nagles that command attention and it’s a real treat to have the opportunity to see these pieces in all their New Wave glory.
Ron Nagle, George Ohr- Look Closer, Look Again -George Adams Gallery
525-531 West 26th Street www.georgeadamsgallery.com/ Exhibition continues through June