Magazine article Artforum International

Ron Nagle. (Reviews: Los Angeles)

Magazine article Artforum International

Ron Nagle. (Reviews: Los Angeles)

Article excerpt

FRANK LLOYD GALLERY

In a show of small ceramic objects (all 2002), Ron Nagle displayed his gift for tweaking familiar forms. Selections from his ongoing "Snuff Bottles" series, begun in 2002, for example, clearly revealed a kinship to the small-necked, round-capped collectible object, with Nagle retaining the item s telltale attributes while converting its form into a female figure that looked like a cross between a doll, a finish-fetish sculpture, and a fertility goddess. The bottles' anthropomorphic shoulders flow into heart-shaped torsos with puffed-out bosoms, and the lower portions fan out into broad skirts edged by drip lines of glaze that read like ruffles. Airbrushed accents there intensify the pieces' luminosity; in some, hazes of reddish orange go so far as to imply heat escaping from beneath the hemline.

Selections from the "Smoove Wares" series, 2001-, meanwhile, showed a greater departure from the forms they are based on. In each, the lip of a cup or mug becomes so broad that the structure resembles a solid cylinder with the center bored Out. The handles have the character of tail fins, airfoils, or stabilizers. Positioned on shelves so viewers could appreciate their silhouettes, the cups leaned as if in motion, their broad bases hugging the horizontal surfaces like cars on a straightaway. The flawless alteration and embellishment of elemental forms, along with the multicoated glazework, pin-striping, and sprayed-on effects all evoke the stylistic screams and screeches of chopped and lowered hot rods that define a West Coast aesthetic in car shows.

In fact, Nagle's cups and bottles, with their saturated colors and highlighted highlights, reference a kustomizing spirit, a faith that something surreal, baroque, powerful, sexy, awe-inspiring, and unique can be coaxed from the factory floor model. …

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