Julia Haft-Candell: "Terrains" at ACME

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In the Autumn!
2013
Porcelain, stoneware, glaze, epoxy resin, linen, silk, thread, ink, gouache, paper, steel, aluminum, wood
111″ x 68″ x 52″
Photo: courtesy Acme Gallery

In her second solo exhibition at ACME, ceramicist Julia Haft-Candell transforms the sterile walls and barren concrete floors of a gallery space into a fertile terrain of imaginative specimens. “Terrains” features large-scale, spindly, unusual forms that feel like a manifestation of uncertain figures that roamed our dreams combined with images we have recorded from waking life. Haft-Candell’s creations are fantastical because they are not simply sculptures but ceramic creations rendered from terra cotta and porcelain intertwined with scrap materials such as paint, ink, wire, PVC pipe, and thread. When in the presence of Haft-Candell’s ceramic pieces, the viewer feels as though they are witness to the creation, destruction and rebuilding of the large-scale pieces, as they appear to have been intentionally broken and then mended. The artist’s indelible mark on her work is characterized by her ability to transcend ceramics as a static medium and transform it into an opportunity to play with positive and negative space, as the wiry forms literally bend in opposing directions while remaining rooted to the ground.

Haft-Candell, who received her MFA from the CSU Long Beach ceramic program in 2010, under the tutelage of Kristen Morgin and Tony Marsh, has an approach to clay that is once highly sculptural while challenging the delicacy of the ceramic medium. With the combination of Sun, Land and In the Autumn! (each 2013) the artist creates a lens to view a manmade landscape. Painted within the fold of the wall is a flashe titled Sun, a fading red and orange sun that seems to have paused between rising and setting. The shape of an enlarged eye at the center of In the Autumn! acts like a telescope through which to see the adjacent Sun and strips of Land created with flashe, linen and wood meticulously aligned on the floor nearby.

Haft-Candell takes advantage of every square inch in the gallery. In Pond, Soft Hill, Paper, and Smoke (each 2012), she creates a circle of four freestanding sculptures that resemble aged rocks, created out of stoneware and glaze. The configuration has a meditative quality, and suggests a sense of permanence, despite its proximity to Pink Light, a grouping of dyed cotton rope, watercolor and calligraphy paper that point to the fragility of the environment–whether manmade or
natural. The show is paired with a small solo show–his first–by LA painter Josh Peters, whose organic-seeming abstractions suggest layers of application, lending an effect of anxiety and age: an apt counterpoint to Haft-Candell.