Fracture and Fragment

"Every act of creation is first an act of destruction." Pablo Picasso

Sandra Shashou’s new body of work, comprising of arrangements of smashed fragments of bone china tea sets, oscillates between modalities of dissolution and reformulation, order and rupture, and historical eras.

Her source material is the bone china produced by Europe’s finest porcelain manufacturers, as the titles of her works indicate – Hamilton, Argyle, Tuscan, Royal Albert, Wedgwood, Limoges, Meito hand-painted and Cobalt – and collected by her from dealers and flea markets. The designs range across centuries and topographies: in one work the lemons and blues of Art Deco, in another the crimson of Edwardian and Victorian designs, and in a third the blue tracery of Chinoiserie.

Shashou brings these tea sets back to her studio and using a small hammer she shatters, punctures, chips and fragments. And yet the shapes of the original crockery are somehow preserved and repurposed in her intricate constructions. The curves of the broken tea sets undulate across simple rectangular surfaces, or swirl around rotundas with a baroque flamboyance. In some the pieces lock tightly together as if part of some giant Cubist puzzle, in other shards seem to be caught in the freeze frame of a constructivist explosion. Her chromatically rich, harmonious works match crimsons, mustard yellows and pinks, or mauve, turquoise and blue. Set in a gold or white ground, Shashou’s fragments unfold like Jackson Pollock’s all-over paintings – only shattered, not splattered.

Shashou has found inspiration in the Japanese art of Kintsugi, in which broken bowls were repaired with beautiful golden joins, so fashionable in the 17th century, that people were accused of deliberately smashing valuable pottery so it could be remade in this manner.

Some may read a social comment in her work, a playful rupturing of bourgeois values. The order and tranquillity of a daily routine, with its echoes of Victorian Britain, Alice in Wonderland and social conformity, tea-time, has been literally shattered.

Shashou herself prefers to foreground the emotional and biographical metaphors embedded in the work. Smashing crockery is, after all, a time-honoured feature of the lovers’ row. “Breakage and fractures are part of the chance and fate of human life, part of our personal history,” she says, "I embrace vulnerability and fragility. In truth that is how we reveal ourselves and really connect.” When Shashou has looked back on love that has disintegrated, and reflected on the times when she has felt ‘shattered’, she has realised that the pieces have rearranged themselves in a new harmonious order. “They fitted together but not they did before."

Home » News » Disrupting the Delicate at Janet Rady Fine Art

Disrupting the Delicate at Janet Rady Fine Art

Dec 8, 2021 | News

Online Exhibition December 8th 2021 – January 4th 2022

I was delighted to be a part of this exhibition, which celebrates women creating contemporary art in ceramics.
Janet Rady Fine Art is pleased to present DISRUPTING THE DELICATE · Contemporary Ceramics By Ten Women Artists, featuring Ilse Black, Rafaela de Ascanio, Julia Florence, Marliz Frencken, Souraya Haddad Credoz, Elza Jaszczuk, Jeni Johnson, Mina Karwanchi, Hala Matta, Sandra Shashou.

The exhibition gathers a refined selection of artistic female talent whose work addresses the sculptural and tactile qualities of clay. 

‘Disrupting The Delicate’ is a counterpoint to the saying ‘women are delicate creatures’, and the common usage of the adjective ‘delicate’ to describe ceramics. Furthermore, the portrayal of women is more than ever a ‘delicate’ matter.

Sandra Shashou’s ‘Broken’ sculptures are not inspired by nature or the human form, she draws her inspiration from her experience of life as a woman.
Porcelain has become her signature sculpting material, her trademark. Growing up in Brazil she was surrounded by beautiful household antique ceramics and glass ornaments that belonged to her mother, such as Sèvres and Limoges, Galle vases, Lalique crystal, she developed an eye and appreciation for these collectable treasures.

The brutal destruction of these precious objects, desecrated beyond repair, implies tragedy, but the reassembled artwork suggests it has taken on a new form and is reborn.
As a philosophy Shashou treats breakage and fractures are part of the chance and fate of human life, part of our personal history, not something to disguise. ‘Broken’ references bravery, courage and rebuilding after devastation.

Meeting collector Robert Bensoussan
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