Writer: Sarah Jaffray
Ceràmica Cumella: Shaping Ideas is on at the Architectural Association (AA) Gallery from 29 September-8 December. The show focuses on the innovative ceramic works of Toni Cumella and his studio that show the artistic and architectural versatility of the medium of ceramics.
Ceràmica Cumella began with Cumella’s father, Antoni as a fine arts ceramic studio, but the studio transformed in 1985 when Cumella, whose initial study was in industrial design, took the helm. Today, Ceràmica Cumella merges the fine art side of ceramics with the industrial nature of architecture. The style of studio Cumella flows seamlessly into the history of Catalonia Architecture.
The legacy of unconventional Barcelonin architect Antoni Gaudi, who used ceramics to ignite a life-force within his structures (most famously the Sagrada Familia) at the end of the 19th century, can be seen in the energetic forms of Cumella’s projects. It is no coincidence that the studio was part of the restorations of Gaudi’s masterpieces Casa Batlló and Park Güell (1989-1992). The AA traces the history of this architecture in a timeline along the walls of the gallery.
Shaping Ideas also looks at the the structural process of ceramic making on such a large scale: the molds, the tools, and the complex processes of mass-producing a material that is both delicate and durable. Stacked metal scaffolding in the gallery hold massive molds and their fragile models. The exhibition is set up so that viewers feel as if they are in the studio themselves.
Other parts of the crowded gallery are covered in organic forms that recall spherical eyes and heavy tears. The forms abstract forms, as in the work of Gaudi, invigorate the flat walls of the architectural space: they stand alone, yet they also create the spatial experience.
Ceràmica Cumella: Shaping Ideas is in the perfect place because it is a learning exhibition about the history and the possibilities of ceramics as fine art and as architecture, lines that are more and more blurred in 21st Century.
Ceramica Cumella: Shaping Ideas
An Exhibition Curated by Mis-Architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture
29 September – 27 October 2012, AA Gallery
Opening times Monday to Friday 10am – 7pm; Saturday 10am – 3pm