Contemporary Ceramic Artists Who Push Boundaries

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One of the oldest traditions in the history of humanity, ceramics and pottery have provided a tool for self-expression for thousands of years. Made for practical uses, ancient ceramic pots, vases, jugs, and plates allowed artisans to also create earthenware works of art. While contemporary ceramic artists use mostly the same techniques to craft objects and artworks, they redefine the ancient art form in new ways. Our ceramic artists list showcases the pure talent of international ceramicists who always push the boundaries in their work. Blending art, design, and function with traditional, modern, or experimental techniques, these artists breathe new life into an age-old tradition. Read on to discover how award-winning ceramicists transform earthenware into masterpieces.

 

Monika Patuszyńska

Exploring the true nature of ceramic.

Polish ceramic artist Monika Patuszyńska uses artistic objects as a tool to explore the nature of ceramic, not the other way around. Throughout her work, she puts the focus not on the finished pieces, but on the process of bringing them to life. She also uses unconventional methods to create her ceramic artworks, calling herself an “accident tamer.” Working with discarded plaster molds from ceramic factories, she creates hybrid objects that explore the true nature of ceramic with all its natural imperfections. The opposite of smooth, perfectly glazed pieces, her sculptural works breathe new life into the craft of ceramics. Photograph ©Monika Patuszyńska

Egle Einikyte-Narkeviciene

Clay sculptures finished with colorful engobes.

Lithuanian artist Eglė Einikytė-Narkevičienė uses clay as a tool to create sculptural artworks. Using traditional sculpting and firing technique along with experimental methods, she brings porcelain masterpieces to life. After creating each work by hand from clay, she uses glazes and colored engobes to add vibrant accents to each design. Bold and imaginative, her sculptures feature distinctive twisting shapes, organic forms, or humanoid silhouettes that seem to grow naturally from geometric and angular bases. Eglė Einikytė-Narkevičienė has won many awards for her work, including at the Vilnius Ceramic Biennale and the Korean International Ceramic Biennale. Photograph ©Vėtrė Antanavičiūtė

Irina Razumovskaya

Ceramic sculptures inspired by the passage of time.

Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Irina Razumovskaya studied ceramics and fine art at the State Academy of Art and Design and then at the Royal College of Art in London. Working intuitively, the artist allows the materials and her aesthetic preferences to take precedence over a clear narrative. In the Barkskin series, she explores the effects of the passage of time on both architectural structures and nature. The sculptural pieces have simple geometric forms and textured finishes that resemble peeling or melting layers. Subtle colors or brighter accents along with organic surfaces or precise lines enhance the designs.

Nicholas Lees

Architectural pieces crafted to perfection.

In a similar way to other talented ceramic artists from our list, award-winning British artist Nicholas Lees creates beautiful works of art that re-imagine an old tradition. Unlike other artists from our selection, however, his artworks look almost too perfect to be handmade. Precise and almost architectural in their form, his stunning ceramic pieces explore the play between light and shadow. Each object is made by hand using a slow and meticulous process. By cutting the ceramic with a lathe machine, the artist creates the perfect layers that give the porcelain pieces their distinctive look. Nicholas Lees uses white or colored porcelain in his work, as well as cobalt, copper, and gold. Photograph ©Jon Furley

Milan Pekař

Using oxides to create mesmerizing textures and colors.

Czech ceramic artist Milan Pekař uses different oxides and ingredients during the crafting process along with varying firing temperatures to achieve organic finishes. His Crystalline Vases and Volume vases are a natural choice for our ceramic artists list. They display a rich array of patterns and textures on beautifully colored backdrops. Inspired by human forms, the objects boast rounded silhouettes and different sizes. While the smallest ones fit neatly into the palm of the hand, the largest vases represent the stylized figure of the human body. Photograph ©Milan Pekař

Walter Usai

Modern ceramics anchored in tradition.

Growing up in a family of skilled ceramicists, Walter Usai learned the craft from his father, renowned ceramic artist Elvio Usai who opened his own workshop in 1959. Working in that very same space, Walter Usai creates intricate or minimalist ceramic pieces that combine tradition and modernity. Apart from vases, bowls, and decorative objects, the artist also crafts traditional jugs which are given as part of a bride’s wedding trousseau in Assemini, Sardinia. Made of polychrome glazed ceramic, these artistic objects boast different colors and finishes. Photograph ©NA’RENTE

Ann Van Hoey

Refined objects that offer an elegant twist on ceramics.

With a background in commercial engineering and furniture design, Ann Van Hoey brings something different to the ancient art of ceramics. A world-famous ceramicist, she creates beautiful porcelain objects with a distinctive twist. Instead of using traditional techniques, the Belgian ceramic artist uses a rolling pin to create thin clay slabs which she then twists and shapes into her signature half-sphere objects. Another step involves cutting sections with precision and folding the bowls like origami pieces. Striking colors complete the designs. One of her series even celebrates a renowned Italian company with earthenware in iconic Ferrari red hues. Photograph ©Dries Van den Brande

Mike Byrne

Ceramic vessels that explore the connection between art, design, and function.

Contemporary ceramic artists push the boundaries of an ancient art with often spectacular results. Irish ceramicist Mike Byrne is one of them. Throughout his work, he explores the dialogue between design, art, function, and narrative. Using clay, Mike Byrne creates jug-like objects that look modern and ancient at the same time. Found materials and etched copper elements enrich the artistic designs, along with liquid engobe layers that create different patinas. Made in an array of light blue, green, and gray hues, the artist’s ceramic work sometimes features bold color contrasts or striking textures. Photograph ©Peter Rowen

Simona Janišová

Blurring the border between ceramics, digital technologies, and art.

Our ceramic artists list brings together the best talent from around the world. Simona Janišová is based in Bratislava, Slovakia. Her work has been included in the collections of museums in Slovakia, France, and the Czech Republic. Like other ceramic artists from our selection, she breathes new life into the pottery craft. Her work often blends digital and traditional techniques, more notably in the award-winning Anachronik series of CNC earthenware completed with hand-painted designs. Whether inspired by Greek vessels or paintings from the 1940s, Simona Janišová’s work always displays an artistic sensibility. Photograph ©Ján Kekeli

Matthew Chambers

Abstract stoneware with captivating spiral forms.

Award-winning ceramicist Matthew Chambers makes abstract artworks with elegant geometric forms. Spirals, twisting layers, and organic shapes in muted or vibrant colors push the limits of the art of ceramics. While precise and perfectly finished, each artwork is made by hand from stoneware clay. The artist uses oxides and various stains to infuse his ceramics with beautiful colors. Apart from his series of pottery, Matthew Chambers has also completed public sculpture commissions for hotels in London and Germany. Photograph ©Matthew Chambers

Hannah Tounsend

Ceramic works inspired by the British shoreline.

Ceramic artists find their muse in various places. For Hannah Tounsend. the British shoreline provides a constant source of inspiration. The award-winning ceramicist makes refined earthenware vessels with abstract, painterly decorations. To create her ceramic works, she uses a special hybrid technique she developed by combining slip-casting and pottery throwing methods. “The static, cast portions of my pieces are representative of solid land; the flowing, thrown section a liquid tide. In this way, the horizontal boundaries within my vessels echo and resonate with the elemental strata of the coast,” she explains. Made from white earthenware, these elegant ceramic sculptures feature partially unglazed surfaces with darker decorative designs. Photograph ©Nigel Essex

Elisabeth von Krogh

Colorful vases with playful designs.

Norwegian ceramicist Elisabeth von Krogh creates artistic vessels with unusual forms and eye-catching colors and patterns. Her colorful work combines art and design in playful ways, bringing a fresh twist to earthenware. Renowned for the large scale public commission she completed for Oslo Airport, her work almost exclusively focuses on vessels and vases. While they vary in size and may feature minimalist and clean or organic designs, her ceramic works are always bold and distinctive. Abstract patterns, optical illusions, bright colors, and bold contrasts give Elisabeth von Krogh’s ceramic works their signature look. Beyond their functional aspects, these vases fulfill the role of sculptural decorations. Photograph ©Elisabeth von Krogh

Susan O’Byrne

Expressive animal sculptures.

Born in Ireland, Susan O’Byrne moved to Scotland to study at the Edinburgh College of Art. Now based in Glasgow, she exhibits her work in the UK, Ireland, and around the world. Her ceramic sculptures reference childhood memories as well as the way animals have played important roles in folklore and myths throughout centuries. Susan O’Byrne’s animal sculptures each have their own personality and they’re also beautifully crafted. To create each piece, the artist uses a wire framework as a base for printed and patterned pieces of porcelain paper clay. The firing process subtly alters the posture of the animal in unpredictable ways, giving an organic finishing touch to the designs. Photograph ©Taili Wu

Roger Coll

Flowing forms captured in clay.

Like some of the other ceramic artists from this list, Rogeoll didn’t start out as a ceramicist. He studied architecture, sculpture, and ceramics, and spent years working in an architecture firm in Barcelona. He opened his own ceramic studio in 2009. Using clay as a means of artistic expression and his experience in architecture design, Roger Coll creates dynamic sculptures with a strong sense of movement. Twisting and turning in bending shapes, his ceramic artworks resemble moving entities frozen in time. Color also plays an important part in his work, helping set the tone of each sculpture. Photograph ©Roger Coll

Bertozzi & Casoni

Ceramic masterpieces.

Bertozzi & Casoni was established in 1980 by Giampaolo Bertozzi and Stefano Dal Monte Casoni. The two artists met while studying at the Ceramic Art Institute of Faenza, and continued their fine arts studies together at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. Their work is conceptual and explores themes of decay, human condition, impermanence, and eternity. At the border between surrealism and hyperrealism, their sculptural pieces also showcase sharp irony, multi-layered concepts, and technical skill. Captivating and intricate, Bertozzi & Casoni’s creations always tell a story. The artists have exhibited their work worldwide, including at the Venice Biennale and in art galleries in Milan, Rome, New York City, Paris, and London. Photograph ©Bernardo Ricci

Deirdre McLoughlin

Archetypal forms in dynamic sculptures.

Born in Ireland, Deirdre McLoughlin first came into contact with ceramics as an art form in Amsterdam in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, she moved to Japan to hone her skills and learn from master ceramicist Tosai Sawamura. Japanese artists Hayashi Yasuo and Arioka Susumu also influenced her work. In 1984, she opened her first solo show in Kyoto and then traveled to various cultural sites connected to ceramics. Back in Amsterdam, she established her own studio. Multi-layered, abstract, organic, and archetypal in form, her ceramic sculptures have simple, pure designs yet they’re charged with meaning. Every piece comes to life through a long crafting process that uncovers each sculpture’s essence. Photograph ©Deirdre McLoughlin

Laura Itkonen

Small vessels that combine different materials and textures.

Our ceramic artists list includes a vast range of creatives, from those who focus only on large-scale pieces to those who create small collectible objects. Laura Itkonen represents the latter category. Based in Helsinki, Finland, she graduated from the Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture and worked as a designer for several years before founding her studio in 2016. Working with different techniques, both traditional and modern, the ceramicist creates artistic and functional pieces. Her Sculptural Series features architectural details and handmade elements with an organic form. Furthermore, the pairing of different materials creates a play of colors and textures. Made of porcelain, these small vessels also feature surface decorations, including pieces of Finnish red earthenware. Photograph ©Laura Itkonen

Ikuko Iwamoto

Organic sculptures inspired by the microscopic world.

London-based Japanese ceramic artist Ikuko Iwamoto uses porcelain to bring otherworldly forms to life. Inspired by the microscopic world, she also draws inspiration from abstract modern art, antiques, and nature. The artist uses a traditional slip-casting technique to create her intricate works that often feature spikes, dot patterns, and organic forms. Apart from porcelain, Ikuko Iwamoto also uses a range of other materials, from metal wire and wood to coiled telephone cables and needles. Her designs range from vases and artistic objects to wall sculptures. Ikuko Iwamoto has exhibited her work at the Saatchi Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. Photograph ©Juliet Sheath

Steen Ipsen

Spherical forms brought together in intricate compositions.

Born in 1966 in Denmark, award-winning artist Steen Ipsen is a leading figure in the world of ceramic art. He has exhibited his work worldwide and his ceramic sculptures have been included in the permanent collections of renowned museums like Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris and Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Steen Ipsen’s work is expressive and dynamic. He uses spherical and oblong shapes in intricate ceramic compositions which he enhances further with PVC or leather strings. Every piece is handmade and one of a kind. To achieve the perfect finish and uniform monochrome surface, the artist glazes, re-glazes, and fires his sculptures several times. Hand decorated patterns can also give another graphical dimension to the smooth porcelain. Photograph ©Jeppe Gudmundsen

Christina Schou Christensen

Innovative designs that reinvent the relationship between stoneware and glazing.

Our ceramic artists list includes many innovative ceramicists. Like Danish artist Christina Schou Christensen. Using glaze to create flowing forms, she creates distinctive work that turns the classic relationship between stoneware and glazing on its head. The artist often experiments in her work, finding ingenious ways to achieve her artistic vision. Non-figurative, her sculptural objects pair raw stoneware with glossy or matte glazes. Instead of covering the earthenware, the glazing becomes its own entity. Seemingly flowing or oozing out of the ceramic vessels, the glazes transform into supporting elements. The artist uses natural and muted colors in her work as well as pastel accents that complement earthy hues. Photograph © Jeppe Gudmundsen-Holmgree

Tamsin van Essen

An exploration of aesthetic obscurity and impermanence.

London-based British ceramicist Tamsin van Essen is one of the ceramic artists that pushes the boundaries of the age-old craft form. And she does it in a fascinating way. Driven by an interest in the concepts of beauty, aesthetic ambiguity, and impermanence, she explores the fine line between attraction and repulsion via material experimentation. Flakes of ceramic that seem to peel away, organic patterns reminiscent of bacterial colonies, and eroding surfaces that make tea cups seem like they’re crafted from sugar give her work a dream-like quality. Tamsin van Essen has exhibited her ceramic artworks worldwide, with pieces included in the permanent collections of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain in Paris. Photograph ©Tamsin van Essen

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