LUCINDA MUDGE: Love Story
Nov 6 – Nov 30, 2019
A solo exhibition of new vases and paintings by Lucinda Mudge
Opening 18:30 Wednesday 6 November 2019
Walkabout with the artist 9 November at 11:00
“Hi, pretty girl,” he said.
“I love you,” she said, and together they laughed.
Then one day she said, “I hate you,” and they cried.
But not together.
“What happened to the love that we said would never die?” she asked
“It died,” he said.
- Charles Schulz
Lucinda Mudge has an intimate relationship with failure. As a ceramicist, her chosen medium is fragile by nature, and prone to fracture. Sudden changes in temperature in her kiln can cause her large-scale vases to crack, crumble or collapse, rendering months of hard work futile.
In Mudge’s love affair with ceramics, this crazing of clay is akin to heartbreak. It can start slowly – small cracks appearing and spreading, familiar patterns disintegrating, once-bright hues fading into oblivion – or it can all fall apart without warning. “It’s a brutal choice of material,” says the artist, and, like love, it can bring both great joy and great misery.
LOVE STORY, Mudge’s latest exhibition with Everard Read, comprises a series of new large-scale ceramic vases that cast a smizing side-eye on star-crossed relationships. Mudge toys with ideas of disappointment and degeneration using her distinctive wit and wordplay. Her vivid vessels bear familiar floral Art Deco motifs and flourishes of gilt filigree, some twisting around the artist’s characteristic speech bubbles, which contain quotations from a variety of popular media. These include a snippet from A Love Story by Erich Beagle – a classic ditty of love gone awry from Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts – from which the exhibition and a number of the vases take their titles.
If they could speak, they’d be provocative, glib, jaded. “Hello Pretty Girl,” says a tall, slender-necked vessel. “Seriously?” sneers an urn with two handles like burning ears. Like the stories of most romances-gone-wrong, there’s a “Bad Bad Boy” (why can’t we stop falling for them?) and a self-satisfied “I Told You So” (at least we’ve still got our dignity). From the first sparks flying to white-hot passion to the embers finally flickering and going out, Mudge’s vases take us on this journey, their bright patterns gradually fading and losing colour from rim to base.
LOVE STORY marks the first time that Mudge has created paintings for a show, and these take on an almost entirely different perspective from her vases. Dubbed “drop paintings”, each artwork is a cover-up of another, hundreds of raindrop-like markings concealing the original image beneath. As an artist who doesn’t necessarily enjoy the publicity that is sometimes seen as a necessary part of a thriving career, Mudge’s new paintings are a paradox between privacy and publicity, the nebulous veil of cool, hazy colours disguising the chaos that lies beneath. Mudge describes them as meditative; as pleasing to look at as they were to paint. “I have enjoyed each colour, looking at each drop as it is framed by a new shade of grey,” she says. “The process is very satisfying, almost the same as ceramics. The sensual feeling of carving into clay is also very pleasing.”
Taking a humorous look at relationships and why they fail, LOVE STORY implements Lucinda Mudge’s unique brand of satire to put a new spin on the predictable and well-worn narrative of romance and heartbreak. Using a pastiche of modern and contemporary imagery, Mudge does this as a way of asking authentic questions, “some of which can make the viewer uneasy, unclear whether the questions are serious or not,” she says. This ambivalence is intentional, and a crucial part of Mudge’s brightly coloured and wickedly witty commentary.
Fay Janet Jackson