Sophia Contemporary is pleased to announce Wear the Heat, the first solo exhibition of Swedish artist Veronica Brovall in the UK. The exhibition will feature seven new glazed ceramic and steel sculptures created in 2018. Wear the Heat will open to the public with a reception from 6-8PM on Tuesday, June 26, and will remain on view through July 28, 2018. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with a foreword written by Natasha Morris.
Brovall's artistic practice explores themes of femininity, gender dynamics, sexuality, and violence through the medium of ceramics. The artist questions the role of ceramics as a material traditionally regarded throughout the history of art as feminine, refined, fragile, and belonging to the field of crafts or to the private realm of the household. In the hands of the artist, ceramic sculpture becomes powerful, playful, and raw while negating any association with traditional conventions of femininity and craft.
The artist's complex abstract sculptures evoke the body, in particular male and female anatomy, while often merely alluding to it. Elements resembling elongated arms, fingers, and body parts protrude from their bases as if the sculptures were constantly and violently expanding, trying to break their mould and give birth to more material. The sculptures are punctured with holes; tongues stick out of their surfaces; daggers pierce their forms in a sort of macabre yet transcending and cathartic dance. Scribbles and notes sometimes cover their skin, like tattoos on human flesh or graffiti on walls. Paint drips from the sculptures, splattered across their delicate surfaces, invoking violent feelings and primal human urges.
Throughout her artistic practice, Brovall turns ceramics into raw and physical anthropomorphic artworks that straddle the fine line between contested notions of femininity and masculinity, life and death, fragility and strength, violence and beauty, and materiality and allegory. By calling into question the conventions permeating history and creating artworks defying easy interpretation, the artist challenges the boundaries of her medium while giving shape to original objects possessing their own internal logic and narrative, both metaphorical and poetic. Her radical approach to ceramics places Brovall at the forefront of a new generation of female sculptors questioning conventional notions of womanhood while striving to reinvent and reshape the century-old medium of ceramics in a contemporary context.
The new series of works exhibited at Sophia Contemporary continues with the artist's exploration of the human form. While her new ceramic and steel sculptures explore the abstract qualities of the body, they also allude to objects from everyday life through the particular process used by the artist. Brovall collects an array of everyday objects such as buckets, containers, pieces of woods, dumbbells, and ties to create shapes that are then used as moulds for her ceramic sculptures. The resulting artworks transform the objects into complex anthropomorphic sculptures, neither male nor female, whose visceral forms operate in constant tension with their delicate glazed surfaces, creating ambiguous artworks defying categorisation.
Wear the Heat refers to the artist's material process of heating ceramic and steel in the kiln to create her sculptures. However, the title also operates on a symbolic level. For the artist, it represents an injunction, a call to action: to face the fact, be in the spotlight, to 'wear the heat'. It also alludes to the anthropomorphic element of the artist's work: the underlying sexuality conveyed by her sculptures, the 'heat' of the body and sweat of the flesh captured by the artist for a fleeting moment in the kiln before they turn cold to the touch in their final iteration.