Robert Archambeau has been an indisputable force in Canadian ceramics for over fifty years. His functional vessels are immediately recognizable from their confident profiles, subtle wood-fired glazes, and meticulous finishes. This publication features seldom-seen aspects of Archambeau’s practice – his drawings. Always one to sketch and develop ideas on paper to investigate later in his vessels, with this body of work Archambeau explores drawing as an independent art form rather than a preparatory exercise. As with his ceramics, his approach to his drawings is considered and rigorous. The artist sources exquisite paper and handmade folios upon which to execute his seemingly spontaneous and gestural portraits of vessels. But as with his pots, everything is worked and reworked, investigated and mined for potential. The textures of his ceramics emerge from the rubbed surfaces, or from the silk textiles laid and affixed to the paper. The minimalistic aesthetic of his drawings is indicative of the deceptive simplicity of his clay vessels.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery and artist Robert Archambeau have enjoyed a long friendship. An acclaimed ceramist and committed professor at the University of Manitoba (1968-1991), he was awarded the title Professor Emeritus in 2004. His contributions in ceramics have been felt locally, nationally and internationally. He was the first Manitoba recipient of the prestigious Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts in 2003.
A renowned ceramist, he began devoting time to the pursuit of drawing in 2006, producing exquisite, intimate, finished drawings. Robert directed more time to this art form, and by 2009 his output of drawings was considerable. Small in scale but powerful in impact, this work was a new source of excitement and exploration for the artist. The subjects, unsurprisingly, are vessels, singular or grouped.
The exhibition Drawn and Fired brought public and critical attention to these drawings for the first time. This publication is the catalogue of the exhibition of Archambeau’s work held at The Winnipeg Art Gallery from February 15 – April 28, 2013. The exhibition positioned the artist’s work in clay next to his explorations on paper. The physicality of the actual pots was echoed in the linear yet asymmetrical display of the 165 drawings.
Robert Archambeau’s impact on Manitoba and Canadian ceramics is formidable. To see the development of his drawings over the years expand the breadth of his practice is exciting: his vessels, whether drawn or fired, are exquisite. The Winnipeg Art Gallery was delighted to be the first gallery to present this new material.
Published by the Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2013, Paperback
English, Colour Photos
Curator / Writer: Helen Delacretaz
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