Dirk Staschke Reinterprets Vanitas in New Sculptural Works

by Clara MoraesPosted on

Ceramicist Dirk Staschke, featured in HF Vol. 23, has meticulously studied Dutch and Flemish still life painting, specifically, the Vanitas genre, to create his work. Some of his new works for the “Nature Morte” exhibition at the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) expose Staschke’s hand-executed process, and we are finally able to see the creative thinking behind his disturbingly delicious imagery of florals and food tableaus.

In Staschke’s three-dimensional “paintings”, the notion of space gets a whole new meaning: where usually nothing would be behind the canvas, he leaves an unrefined mound of clay that displays how it was done. In other words, if his works were a theater play, the audience would be able to see the actors rehearsing as well as their performance. Instead of just contemplate and admire, it’s a style that makes us consider the artist who sculpted the piece.

In Staschke’s ceramic piles of pastries, meats, and vegetables, he follows in the tradition of Vanitas, works of art that held a hidden symbolism. The Vanitas genre is mainly about the futility of pleasure and the certainty of death and Staschke seeks to “translate that futility into artistic gesture by rendering what is representational and static in the fluid medium of glaze.”

Not just merely representational images of bones, hourglasses, and skulls, commonly used motifs by Staschke, these “deadly mountains” of objects imply something more sinister- they represent an insatiable urge to consume and the destructive power of human desire. The “Nature Morte” exhibition will be on view until September 18th at the AMOCA, in Pomona, California.

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