Certosa, III, 2015
Certosa, III, 2015
Edmund de Waal
b. 1964, Nottingham, United Kingdom
English potter Edmund de Waal grew up in Canterbury, the son of a historian mother and a chancellor father (who later became the dean of Canterbury Cathedral). At the age of five, de Waal threw his first pot during an open studio night at a local college and immediately fell smitten with the tactile process of shaping wet clay. As a teenager, de Waal began an apprenticeship with the potter Geoffrey Whiting who, in turn, was a disciple of the father of modern British pottery, Bernard Leach. De Waal went on to study English at Cambridge, before moving to Japan to continue his pottery instruction. De Waal eventually moved to London, where he opened his own studio and began to develop his signature style: white porcelain vessels with deliberate imperfections, reflecting the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi.
In 2011, de Waal was awarded an OBE for his contributions to art. His works are in the collections of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and he has created installations for the Tate Britain, London; The National Museum of Wales, Cardiff; Turner Contemporary, Margate; and the Theseus Temple, Vienna. In 2013, he had a solo-show at the Gagosian Gallery in New York, and in January and February of 2016, another show at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. In 2014, Phaidon published a major monograph of de Waal's body of work. Along with being an award-winning artist, de Waal is also a published author. His 2010 memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes, was an international bestseller and his most recent book, The White Road, is a sweeping history of the spread of porcelain from China to the rest of the world.
Rather than simply producing individual vessels, de Waal deliberately exhibits his works as installations, carefully arranged on purpose-built shelving units. Certosa III takes its name from the Italian word for charterhouse, referring to a monastery of the Catholic Carthusian Order. Like its namesake, Certosa, III's white simplicity inspires contemplation; these hand wrought vessels and plates appear to have ascended from the utility of everyday life into the poetics of pure form. As one of the most recent works in the exhibition, Certosa, III demonstrates a novel interpretation of the still life genre.