Susan Nemeth’s work explores the results of rapid sketching, which she translates into handmade forms relating to the pot. Starting by drawing in museums, she then makes, draws, remakes and redraws to create doodles on paper and in clay. Nemeth’s is a free, painterly style and her influences are often found in the background details of paintings by artists such as Henri Matisse, Ben Nicholson, Paul Klee and others.
Nemeth explores how individuality is expressed in an object and the way that hand making humanizes it. The early European porcelains of Meissen and Sèvres are a reference. Disrupting, simplifying and transforming these objects with the imperfect touch creates a bare essential caricature. Interacting with the material is a two way process. Her practice of making, destroying and remaking parallels cycles of decay and renewal. She builds, soaks, pushes, squeezes, breaks, cuts and repairs. To destroy and rebuild causes a lack of control adding motion to the making.
Porcelain is chosen for its purity, sensitivity, paradoxical qualities of fragility and strength and its movement during the firing. Up to ten layers of coloured, transparent slips are painted to form a skin-like membrane. Digitally printed ceramic transfers, together with glaze and gold leaf allude to the porcelain’s history.
Further inspirations for Nemeth’s ‘Still Lives’ include the distorted, decaying, bawdy fruits of Luis Meléndez, the compositions of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin and the painterly qualities of Paul Gauguin.