David Zink Yi talks to GalleriesNow
about art and inspiration

photo © David Zink Yi. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

To coincide with his exhibition “Rare Earths” at Hauser & Wirth Zürich, GalleriesNow talks to David Zink Yi about the inspiration behind these new ceramic works - pieces which engage with the multimedia artist’s direct and intuitive approach to his practice.

17 January to 29 February 2020

take a virtual tour of the exhibition

photo: Wolfgang Stahr

GalleriesNow: You’re known for more figurative work, can you tell us how you came to concentrate on abstract pieces for this exhibition?

David Zink Yi: For me, there is not much opposition between figuration and abstraction. In a good work of art, the two always stay ambivalent. In my experience, some works find their form through something abstract, like a rhythm, pattern, or a single note played by a trumpet player. Some other pieces have their origin in more figurative ideas or they emerge from a concrete story. This would be the case in my work untitled (Architeuthis), a giant ceramic squid. The fact that the reproduction of this strange and incredible form is made out of fired earth, oxides and minerals, I believe it is more than just a figurative approach. The form and material combined embrace both abstract and concrete elements.

In Rare Earths, my show at Hauser & Wirth Zürich, I decided to only work with ceramics. After building my own studio with an industrial size kiln and exploring many different ideas, I found myself working on pieces for this specific space. I wanted to show works without thinking too much about whether they are abstract or figurative – it was a natural development.

“It is a process of
losing control and
having to accept
the outcome”

GN: I’m interested in the play between your stoneware “scribbles” and the rectilinear gallery windows on which they hang, this clearly was done on purpose, what interests you about that interplay?

DZY: I have been working with Hauser & Wirth since 2004 and every time I looked at the gallery’s space in Zurich, I had often wondered what would make a good piece for this huge and beautiful window facade. I wanted to work against the predictable and transform the window aside from its purpose purely as a light source. The windows are frosted white with a strong black raster pattern, which make them look like graphs for technical sketches. That’s how I came to the idea to make a group of drawings that would interact with the window fronts, contra-posing playful lines out of stoneware with the rigid order of the window frames. Throughout the day, the window front also presents an entire palette of greys and yellows as the daylight shifts and the clouds pass by, I really enjoy this aspect.

Hauser Wirth Zurich David Zink Yi 2

© David Zink Yi. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

GN: And there’s a similar counter-intuitive interplay between the sectional design of the freestanding stele and their finished appearance isn’t there?

DZY: The freestanding steles are inspired by recognized shapes and contours, some from an architectural context like skyscraper floor-plans and others from natural elements, such as a leaf from an oak tree. But through the behaviour of the material during the production process they become a kind of register of mistakes and chance – pieces with their own will. This willful behaviour of the material continues with the glazing process. They never get the appearance you would expect, or even the one you had planned. It is a process of losing control and having to accept the outcome.

© David Zink Yi. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

GN: The glazed pieces in “All My Colours” are both beautiful, and completely process-led - where do they come from and do you think you will ever stop making variations on them?

DZY: These pieces were conceived as an experiment to search for new colours and different surfaces/glazes, each one is unique. Their form was developed in order to understand the behaviour of the glaze on an uneven shape, and at a certain point, I realised that these forms were very suggestive. They started as a pragmatic necessity to discover and create glazes myself through my own mixtures and to create an archive of these material possibilities. But it later became an artistic obsession for me. Gradually they revealed themselves as paintings too. They oscillate between paintings and objects, but also between methodic experiments and pieces open to all kinds of associations for the viewer. I doubt very much that I will stop making them as long as I keep working with ceramics. They are all my colours and I hope I never end searching for new or different ones.



Rare Earths is at Hauser & Wirth Zürich until 29 February 2020

take a virtual tour of the exhibition

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