Robert Archambeau has been an indisputable force in Manitoba and Canadian ceramics for well over fifty years. His functional vessels are immediately identifiable from their confident profiles, subtle wood-fired glazes, and meticulous finishes. Honoured in 2003 with the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Archambeau was the first Manitoba artist to be recognized with this prestigious award.
Drawn and Fired explores a different direction in Archambeau’s art than previous shows—that of drawing. 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. He 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 surfaces of his drawings are layered, his mediums varied. 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 earthy, robust physicality of his pots is complemented by the heady odour of ink and varnish, and the tactile nature of the woven pulp surfaces.
Complementing the intimate drawings on display will be a selection of Archambeau’s recent ceramic vessels. Seen side-by-side with the works on paper, the surfaces, intimated through washes and dense inks, are realized with clay, glaze, and ash fall from the kiln. A publication with an essay by Chief Curator Helen Delacretaz and an extended foreword by Executive Director Stephen Borys will be forthcoming in spring 2013.quisite