Review: Liz Larner

Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin.

Beyond the turgid layers of human construction and waste, the pristine white mountain peaks and deep, dark ocean floors are the tectonic plates that rumble, roil, and buckle on a geologic timescale. The idea of these terrestrial bodies enfolding, slipping over, and sliding beneath one another, their caresses lubricated by bubbling magma, and coming to rest in a mighty embrace, is a romantic’s wet dream.

Inspired by the poetic language used to describe earth’s formative movements, Los Angeles–based sculptor Liz Larner reverses the process, turning dust into solid form on a human scale. Her dense ceramic slabs gleam with layers of colored epoxy or glaze. Their titles incorporate literary and geologic terms such as caesura (a metrical pause), subduction (the process in which a tectonic plate moves under another), and calefaction (heating). The coal-black xvii (caesura), 2015, for example, shows a ridge bursting forth from the center of the form, caused by pressure from opposite directions, whereas the glossy, cobalt-blue vii (subduction), 2015, has broken in two. Other slabs are painted in striated colors and incorporate minerals and stones that changed properties in the kiln, such as ix (calefaction), 2016, which is glazed with a gradient from sea green to neutral beige and speckled with blackened burn marks from combusted stones.

The dynamic connections are also unforgiving fissures—fault lines, ridges, and trenches that lie dormant until cataclysm erupts, a point of no return. Larner’s slabs contain a noble message: What we assume is solid can rupture and atomize unexpectedly, destabilizing the foundations upon which we stand, but each time these forces collide, everything shudders into a new perspective.

First published on Artforum.com, October 6th, 2016
https://www.artforum.com/picks/id=63928

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