There are quite a few similarities in Inman Gallery's new two-person exhibition, "Farewell Ruins." Both artists work in ceramics to create otherworldly sculptures that take on unfamiliar forms that don't strive for perfection. They are also both named Julia. But that's where the similarities end. Through entirely different processes, Julia Haft-Candell and Julia Kunin arrive at pieces that are uniquely strange and captivating.
This is the Julias' second group exhibition at Inman, and it's clear why they make such an appropriate pair. Drawn together by their similarities, they each help accentuate what makes the other's work so original and fresh.
Kunin's nearly a dozen sculptures are lined up in a nice row. Though labeled as vases, they aren't all that practical. For starters, they have a very small hole through which to add water or a bouquet; it's almost an afterthought. And you wouldn't want to distract from these striking standalone pieces with a few roses or tulips.
The Zsolnay porcelain factory in Hungary glazed the Brooklyn-based artist's pieces using a secret technique it invented 150 years ago.
The Brooklyn-based artist has been trained in a glazing technique invented by the Zsolnay porcelain factory in Hungary that has been kept a secret for 150 years. Kunin used stones she found from a 15th century Hungarian monastery. The resulting pieces have an iridescent luster that looks like gasoline or some other toxic substance. Their craggy, misshapen forms also add to this unnatural feel. It seems as if once perfectly functional vases have corroded and decayed to these current objects, which are more interesting to look at in their mutant state.
Where Kunin's works are small and contained, Haft-Candell's pieces commandeer the gallery space just on size alone. The Los Angeles artist's floor-bound works are a combination of a variety of materials -- porcelain fragments, fabric, structuring wire, rebar, thread, wood, cement, ink, gouache, epoxy resin and more -- as well as mediums, as Haft-Candell employs painting, drawing and sculpture.
The resulting five assemblages look like bandaged branches or limbs; they invite personification. One of the pieces is even called Elbow, another Charlie. These look like wounded, vulnerable things that Haft-Candell has given a second life, like pastel Frankenstein's monsters that take on a life of their own. Or maybe they're on their last legs, continually broken and then bandaged. The show is titled "Farewell Ruins," after all.
"Farewell Ruins: Julia Haft-Candell and Julia Kunin" at Inman Gallery, 3901 Main, runs through March 30. For more information, call 713-526-7800 or visit www.inmangallery.com.