The Physical Reality of Ken Price

Karen Kedmey
Jul 5, 2013 3:42AM

Ceramist Ken Price said:

"Small objects are about intimate experience. And they tend to subvert detached analytical viewing by drawing you in closer to the physical reality of the piece."

I would say that all of his objects, not only the small ones, subvert cool analysis, because they are so hot. The conceptual is there if you want it, in an undeniable undercurrent that demonstrates Price's erudition and art historical acumen. But this is a man of material! He doesn't use red, he uses crimson and rouge; he uses blush, plum, midnight, rust--the colors of the body, nature, and the American Southwest, but deeper and more intense. And these impossibly rich hues are painted onto a range of forms that urge touch. Even the non-physical parts of his pieces--the depressions and holes--are physical. The voids that he cuts into his knobby, reptilian lumps look like velvety cubes that seem to float softly at the center of eggshell-smooth planes of color. The mouth-like hole in Arctic (1998) contains--surprise--an undulating ruby tongue.

Part of the pleasure of all art objects is their physicality. Price demonstrates this so generously in every one of his works.

Karen Kedmey