Skip to content

Johannes Nagel


Ceramic slipcovers, tangible vessels, palpable spaces, battered tanks, inexplicable storage containers—the forms are invariably objects that speak, recognisable as vases, bottles, tubs, vats, barrels or hosepipes.

The only thing missing is their self-evident purpose. These are not simply container-objects made of porcelain. They are receptacles of obvious individuality and moderate mysteriousness. They have left time behind. The vessels associate archaic instruments or nest-building with rough smudges along the walls of natural cavities. They recall natural forms, dissected and firmly preserved organs or the hard shells of big loricated fruits.

The porcelain casts and grouts are transformations of living things, of motion, a gestic encompassing of the counter die. Everything is shifted in apparent imbalance. The objects are coated in a chalky skin; the glazes are rutted by craquelure. Surfaces appear chapped, cracked and dull. Drips of paint run across blurred paintings, fragmentary ornaments shimmering through on rare occasions.

No accessories, no decorations—the ceramics are imperiously alive. They are procacities, demanding that we observe minimal distances not only spatially but also temporally. Ceramics take on the role of mobile meditative spaces, vessels of thought, receptacles of ideas, everted caverns as reservoirs.

Johannes Nagel exposes the Missing Link, the connection between the wheel-thrown and hand-constructed ceramics, a free-handed architecture. The negative sand-castle is the cave. Nagel digs statically precarious, inscrutable buildings into the sediment that we can only sense. The grabbing hand performs a simple turn, an aborted rotation, a mere swing, an arc drawn only once, no spin, just half or quarter pirouettes. The excavated passages are cast, dimensionally stable. The motion of the replicable manoeuvre is stored intelligibly in the burned pot. The fluid state finds balance in the congealed motion.

Rüdiger Giebler, February, 2014

Johannes Nagel on Artsy