Anders Ruhwald The Hand is the Mind is the Bomb that Blows
Anders Ruhwald’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, titled The Hand is the Mind is the Bomb that Blows, presents a new series of 25 large ceramic sculptures. These works focus on one of the most basic interactions – an artist’s hand shaping a material. Through Ruhwald’s hands and the process of firing, matter solidifies into meaning. He created these objects during months of focused studio work, which was a complete immersion and embracement of the metamorphic nature of clay. There was a sheer physicality to his process as he transformed tons of clay and gallons of glaze with minimal use of tools and through countless firings.
Central to the gallery installation are four “Index” objects that Ruhwald idiosyncratically named: Blow, Person, Mass, and Coil. Each sits in one of the four corners of the artist’s rectangular exhibition layout, becoming references to the remaining 21 sculptures. These Index objects outline central aspects of his work: human scale (Person), perforated surface (Blow), dense material (Mass), and his time/technique (Coil) with which he makes all the objects.
To Ruhwald, these pieces are a reflection on the nature of sculpture and how the meaning of an artwork changes through time. Specifically for this exhibition, he explored the radical leftwing bombing in 1970 of Rodin’s Thinker outside The Cleveland Art Museum. The Museum’s decision to re-install the artwork unrestored, underscored how meaning can evolve, over not only time, but also with context. In this instance, the damage caused by the bomb fundamentally revealed the sculpture’s materiality and inscribed a political manifestation into the narrative of the object, transforming it from an exalted image to a relatable object, forever changing the way we understand the sculpture.
The Hand is the Mind is the Bomb that Blows makes visible an amalgamation of human and matter through a range of open-ended explorations Ruhwald set in motion. The sculptures linger between the figurative and the abstract, allowing a sense of body and material to appear at the same time. Some of these sculptures result from the challenge to assert control over the material against its inherent nature; in other instances, the body/mind and material coalesced. His objects can be read as diaristic, process based, and representational, simultaneously.
I have worked with ceramics since I was 15. Creating form with this material is second nature to me – it’s a way of thinking, a way of finding and arriving at a point. The material is the friction I need to solidify my wandering thoughts. It is the conduit by which ideas become form. Transforming clay into glazed ceramic is a broken-up process that progresses over time. Each of these steps significantly changes the object and gradually reveals what it will be. By this, my understanding of the sculpture evolves throughout the months of making each of them. I begin to explore ideas by working the malleable clay, but once built, the process of drying, firing, and glazing transforms and adds meaning to the object. The duration of making these works defines what they become – the months I spend with them folds into their structure. Hereby, each of the objects arrives at a junction of time, process, and intention. – Anders Ruhwald
All images: The Hand is the Mind is the Bomb that Blows, 2017. Photography courtesy of Morán Morán