February 15th - April 4th, 2020
The historic Neutra VDL Studio and Residences in Silver Lake hosted the work of artist Shio Kusaka in a project curated by Douglas Fogle and Hanneke Skerath. Responding to the unique architectural environment of Richard Neutra’s Los Angeles home and workspace, Kusaka will quietly populate this iconic example of domestic mid-century modernism with her signature idiosyncratic ceramic vessels, small sculptures of animals, a new set of dinnerware and hand-crafted textile designs inspired by the work of Agnes Martin, Josef Albers and Ellsworth Kelly, respectively. Living and working in Los Angeles for the better part of the past two decades, Kusaka has spent her career subtly subverting the world of ceramics within the field of contemporary art. Enthusiastically embracing imperfections and irregularity in her ceramic-based works, Kusaka has approached her practice with a playful openness that is at once modest yet laced with wry humor.
For her installation at the Neutra VDL Studio and Residences Kusaka has given a nod to the phrase “indistinct chatter” that often appears in the subtitles of films and television when voices in the background cannot be identified. Like figures at a cocktail party who quietly chat away in different parts of a home, Kusaka’s pots and sculptures will circulate through Neutra’s own domestic environment making their own small talk with both the unique features of the home itself, as well as the visitors to the exhibition. Groups of Kusaka’s older and newly created pots will be distributed throughout the shelves, coffee tables and other nooks and crannies of the VDL’s interior.
Kusaka’s ceramic vessels have been defined over the years by the interplay between their slightly imperfect shapes and the geometric but loose patterns that the artist incises or paints on their surfaces. Paying homage to the ordered regularity yet slight imperfections of the works of a painter like Agnes Martin, Kusaka embraces the paradox of a desire for perfection and its all too human impossibility.
Kusaka’s pots will be accompanied in the house by a long row of her ceramic animals that will march across the built in bookcase in the VDL’s upstairs living room facing the Silver Lake Reservoir as well as new dinnerware produced at Cerámica Suro in Guadalajara, alongside handmade throws and pillows inspired by the patterns and palettes of Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly and Josef Albers. To complete the indistinct chatter of her installation, Kusaka will honor the inside-outside ethos of Neutra’s modernist design principles by presenting planters on the living room and rooftop terraces. Kusaka’s work, with its exquisite attention to the irregular and embrace of the fallibility of the human hand, is an incredible match for the architecture of Richard Neutra who preached about the therapeutic qualities of modern architecture from a psychological and environmental point of view. In different but related ways, both artist and architect embrace the fragility of the human condition and the power of objects to make our lives more joyful. Although mute, her pots and other interventions generate a kind of silent indistinct chatter that harkens back to the heyday of Neutra’s VDL house when it played host to a wide array of artists, architects, writers, filmmakers and musicians.
A publication about the project is forthcoming and will be published by Blum & Poe.
About Shio Kusaka
Shio Kusaka was born in 1972 in Morioka, Japan and lives and works in Los Angeles. She received her B.F.A. in 2001 from the University of Washington, Seattle. Collections include Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, The Netherlands; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles; Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, OH; and Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include the 2014 Whitney Biennial, New York; “Shio Kusaka and Jonas Wood,” Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, The Netherlands (2017-18); and "Shio Kusaka," Gagosian, Rome (2018).
About the curators
Douglas Fogle spent over twenty years as a curator of contemporary art at Walker Art Center, Carnegie Museum of Art and the Hammer Museum. In 2012, he joined forces with independent curator Hanneke Skerath to open the curatorial office STUDIO LBV in Los Angeles. Together they curate exhibitions, organize talks, and produce publications.
For more information please contact Douglas Fogle and Hanneke Skerath at +1 310 871 5615 or firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
This project has been made possible by the generous support of Blum & Poe Gallery, Los Angeles, Tokyo, New York, and the Neutra VDL Research House under the directorship of Sarah Lorenzen.