Jeffry Mitchell, Limoges Porcelain Plates, 2014–15

Jeffry Mitchell, Limoges Porcelain Plates, 2014–15

Ceramic platters. Limoges porcelain. Fabricated in Berlin and Seattle by artist, 2014-2015. Each uniquely decorated front and back. Glazed in four colors: denim, gray, white and navy; all with gilt detailing. Edition of 48. Approximately 13 × 13 × 1.5".  RITE EDITIONS, San Francisco, CA. 2015.

Set of four: $4500.

One plate: $1200.

Artist’s Statement

In the summer of 2013 an invitation came to visit the Zentrum fur Keramik in Berlin and make work in porcelain. The residency enabled me to work with the Limoges formula (from the well known factory in France) for the first time. I normally work with terra cotta. Terra cotta is every day. Limoges is the opposite. Here I'm using deluxe materials to embody a playfulness, this is a reversal of my habit of alluding to deluxe objects with "mud-pie" materials. The experience was exciting and productive. And in 2014, I happily returned to the Center to fabricate 48 Limoges platters for RITE Editions. 

The platters are cut from slip cast slabs. (Fresh from the mold the slabs are 5/8" thick.) They are then pressed onto large plaster mounds. While resting and firming on these mounds I draw the verso and add the feet. The next day I flip the platters and draw the face. When I've completed the decoration and the piece is bone dry I repeat the drawing in a looser way with a brush and shellac. When the shellac dries the entire piece is sponged to gently erode the open surface and create the shallow relief. 

The decoration of each plate is unique; it is dense with my time and my attention and my touch. The central motif of every platter is a stylized peony. Of course I'm a fan of the flower itself but in this case I am using a stylized method of depiction that I lifted from Chinese and Japanese Painting. These flowers are not drawn from nature. They are more like calligraphic meditations; a set of moves repeated as a practice. I've drawn these flowers in this way for over thirty years.

Every platter contains my initials J.M. and the initials Z.F.K. (Zentrum fur Keramik) and the date. Many mention the date relative to the first day of fall. For example, "5 days after the first day of fall" or "the last day of summer". Although I don't speak German I use what I believe are the German words for fall, time, oak leaf, oak tree (Herbst, die Zeit, Eichenblatt, Eichenbaum.) In addition, some plates have drawings of octopuses referencing the month the work was made and others show images of bears and lions, a rebus for Berlin. The diaristic nature of all the decorations are meant to highlight the time I spent in Berlin producing the project, now of course past. Wistfully and maybe even poignantly they look to a future when someone else looks at them, touches them, considers them.

Artist’s Biography

Jeffry Mitchell was born and currently resides in Seattle, WA. Working in a number of media, including ceramics, drawing, printmaking and installation, Mitchell freely combines high and low culture and references religion, sex, nature, fine art, folk and decorative arts traditions. The artist received an MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Recent exhibitions include Our Prayer, AMBACH AND RICE, Los Angeles, CA, Like a Valentine, The Art of Jeffry Mitchell, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA, May Flowers, Elizabeth Moore Fine Arts, New York, N.Y., and the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, Portland Art Museum, Portland, Or. Recently, Mitchell exhibited his RITE Editions at the Rena Bransten Gallery, Minnesota Street and his work will be featured at the upcoming Seatttle Art Fair 2016. Mitchell has received numerous honors including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2009. His work is in the Permanent Collections of the Seattle Art Museum, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University and the Portland Art Museum.