Contemporary Portraits of Ancient Objects
For over a thousand years the Chinese have painted portraits of art objects in their collections, both to extol the esthetic virtues of an object and to exhibit the accomplishments of a collector. Following and contemporizing this practice, Eric Zetterquist has created a series of portraits of Asian ceramics dating from 2500 B.C. – 1400 A.D.. He has done this by isolating minute form elements of the object, and highlighting the negative space created by them. He further reduces and abstracts these forms by creating large-scale, flattened images in black and white with “painterly” edges. Unlike the hard-edged minimalism of the seventies, the matte, inky black and splashed edges, together with the matte textured paper on which they are printed, are evocative of Asian calligraphy, and create “warm minimalist” abstractions. Not merely photographs of objects, they challenge their viewers to explore concepts of form and negative space in both ancient and contemporary contexts, and remind us that we are part of a human chain that stretches back through the millennia, whose core values of beauty and artistic integrity are stalwart.
Zetterquist's dual careers as a photographer and an expert in Asian antiquities led to the “Object Portrait” series of highly abstracted details of ancient ceramics. It is an ultimate East-Meets-West and Old-Meets-New project that reveals his early influences of Sugimoto, Ellsworth Kelly, and the countless Song Dynasty masterpieces that he has handled over the last two decades. Originally developed as a way to help his clients understand how we perceive the nuances of form, these large scaled works, more like ink painting than photographs, have become popular in their own right, selling into several private collections in the United States, Japan and Hong Kong.
2014 Commission from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to create an installation of five large-scale pieces for their newly renovated Chinese galleries.
2017 One Man Show The Museum of South East Asian Ceramics, Bangkok
2018-2019 One Man Show at the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka Japan.
Selected Museum Collections:
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Museum of South East Asian Ceramics, Bangkok
The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka
Gallery Solo Exhibitions:
2020 Imura Gallery Kyoto, Japan
2015 “Signal 8” exhibition at the Cat Street Gallery in Hong Kong
2016 Literati/Curiosity II exhibition and sale at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong.
2018 "Vasa Vasorum" Peters Projects, Santa Fe
2019 Each Modern Gallery: Taipei Dangdai Art fair, Taipei Taiwan
2017 "Object Portraits" monograph published by Nazraeli Press.
2018 “Dan Flavin, to Lucie Rie and Hans Coper, Master Potters” Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz, 2017.
2018 "Isolation/Exaltation: Eric Zetterquist’s Object Portraitsat the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka", Arts of Asia Magazine, November/December 2018 issue.
2018 "Object Portraits" Museum Catalog by The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka.