Yurim Gough

25 May – 10 June 2019
9am – 5pm

“One should project the imagination, not just expose the material. This is what makes it art…creating into the material, art beyond technique, beyond life.” – Paul Valéry

Yurim Gough is not a potter but a ceramic artist who uses the medium as a language to cross the boundaries of cultures, to question the boundaries between craft and fine art and also to expand the boundaries of ceramics. She leaves the utilitarian values in her ceramics as secondary not merely for the sake of aesthetics but for deeply felt and poignant ideas about our lives as individuals.

Henry Moore said that sculpture must have life in it. Yurim’s ceramic art is certainly imbued with life, not as a mere connotation but a pure expression of it. This is because she moulds the bowls in her hands and then draws straight onto them, with no plan, never changing a line. Her vases are like many bowls coming together, somehow inverted into sculptures. Drawing directly onto these from a life model in front of her, Yurim allows the energy and emotional state of the subject to lead the way in both capturing the moment but also the essence of the individual, thus creating the narrative of the artwork. The lines are drawn with a ceramic pencil onto the rough texture of the fired hand-built stoneware. For some pieces, imagery is overlaid on the drawings and in others we find little cracks and ‘sawn’ parts, reminiscent of the Japanese Kintsugi method whereby broken pieces of pottery are mended to symbolise our humanity; each with its own story and beauty, thanks to the unique cracks formed when the object breaks, as if they were wounds that leave different marks on each of us.

Yurim’ s drawing is scratched out with an energy that suggests the artist’s feelings towards her subjects, including herself. They are not soft, idealised figures but a vigorous embrace of real flesh captured in a moment of time to suggest narratives, imagined or real. There is a raw sexuality and a kind of human anxiety that is brought to the surface through assured line and direct expression. A whole of human life seems to fits into a bowl in Yurim’s delicate work. Teasing stockings and high heels, along with fashion accessories, open or crossed legs, are frank about their purpose. The familiarity with which she depicts the naked body makes the eroticism thought-provoking.

Identity and beauty are important subtexts in Yurim’s art, where symbols of contemporary life are aestheticized and used as a point of departure for a truly artistic act. This affords her the freedom to self-examine our place in society and our contemporary identity that is so often ruled by postmodern self-interest or blind consumerism. There is irony, directness and fragility in her art but first and foremost, we are faced with an unapologetic sincerity which leaves a deep and lasting impression.