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Adrian SAXE

Glendale, California, United States of America born 1943

Nirvanarrhea 2002 Place made: Los Angeles, California, United States of America
Materials & Technique: ceramics, glazed stoneware, earthenware and porcelain; artificial gemstones, lacquered wood

Dimensions: overall 160.0 h x 87.0 w x 76.0 d cm stand 35.5 h x 61.0 w x 61.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2005
Accession No: NGA 2005.946.A-P
Image rights: Photographer: Anthony Cuhna
  • Adrian Saxe has long explored the territory of historicised objects held aloft on sculpted pedestals. In Nirvanarrhea he has elevated a group of gourd-like vessels onto a lifting device composed of three-dimensional clouds that are based on the cloud patterns seen on Chinese porcelain. However, Saxe’s dark, coarse, clay clouds are grounded in the manner of the rockwork of eighteenth-century French rococo porcelain, subterranean and coral-like in their ultramarine depth. The lustred vessels balanced upon this structure extend this illusion with their fleshy attenuated forms, variations of gold glazes and sparkling inclusions of gemstones.Nirvanarrhea exists as a gold-glazed presence, a gilded and bejewelled organism inviting us into a hallucinatory tableau in which the natural and the artificial cross territories. The work evokes the wonder with which Europeans first encountered Asian art and their construction of the Chinoiserie that elevated its stylistic conventions to arcane exoticism. Saxe’s subversive humour floats around this complex object, liberating it from historicism and dogma to allow us to engage with its erotic subtext.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra