Neolithic Çatalhüyük Terracotta Fertility Goddess, 6000 BCE - 5000 BCE. Terracotta, 17.1 x 10.2 x 10.2 cm, 6 3/4 x 4 x 4 in, LO.554, POA. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
LONDON.- ‘Unglazed’ presents eight millennia of ceramic art from around the world, emphasising how diverse cultures have transformed clay into myriad forms for thousands of years. In contrast to the smooth, frictionless and glossy surfaces that typify today’s digital culture, this exhibition celebrates the earthy ‘unglazed’ quality of ancient ceramic work. ‘Unglazed’ is attuned to the physical, human touch and creative spirit of anonymous makers. The exhibition title emphasises the raw quality of the works on display, which show the texture of the clay, its unevenness, cracks and imperfections.
From the earliest piece in the show – a Neolithic fertility goddess from Anatolia c.5000-6000 BCE, to the latest, an enigmatic Costa Rican vessel in the form of a bird, c.1100-1500 CE, these works possess a sense of immediacy, playfulness and sometimes strangeness that transcends time. Whether a Bronze Age mask from Israel c.2700-1700 BCE, or a hump-backed Amlash Zebu Bull from northern Iran, c.1200-800 BCE, an enigmatic reclining Sumerian figure from 3000-2000 BCE, or a Cypriot painted vessel in the form of breasts from c.900-700 BCE, the works drawn from across Africa, Asia and The Middle East and Europe reveal the different forms and finishes clay can take and how diverse civilisations have moulded the earth itself into objects imbued with humanity and occasionally humour.
Bronze Age mask, Israel, c.2700-1700 BCE. Terracotta, 19.8 x 19.1 x 5.1 cm, 7 3/4 x 7 1/2 x 2 in, LO.1285, £ 36,000.00. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
Amlash Terracotta Vessel in the form of a Zebubull, Northern Iran, c.1200-800 BCE. Terracotta, 8 x 14 x 18, JL.13. POA. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
Sumerian Terracotta Recumbant Figure (3000 BCE - 2000 BCE). Terracotta, 9 x 10 x 3 cm, 3 1/2 x 4 x 1 1/8 in, LO.1353, £ 2,500.00. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
Other highlights of the show include a large Han Dynasty terracotta horse, c.206- 220 BCE, a Tang Dynasty camel with removable rider, c.618-906 BCE, and a large Indus Valley vessel covered in animal designs, c.3000-2000 BCE.
Indus Valley Terracotta Vessel, 3000 BCE - 2000 BCE. Terracotta, 36 x 36 x 36 cm, 14 1/8 x 14 1/8 x 14 1/8 in, AM.0233. POA. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
All of the works in the show come from the vast collection of the Barakat Gallery, assembled over decades by Fayez Barakat, the fifth-generation custodian of the collection and international family business. Barakat comments on how and why he chooses the objects in his gallery: “The things that I cherish the most have a personality that transcends their obvious appearances or function and which I call energy. Like beauty, it is to be found in the eye or the touch of the individual and everyone perceives it differently."
Bronze Age Period Terracotta Ritual Vessel, 2500 BCE - 1500 BCE. Terracotta, 36 x 8 x 8 cm, 14 1/8 x 3 1/8 x 3 1/8 in, LO.1367. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
Cypriot Vessel, 1500 BCE-900 BCE. Terracotta, 25 x 15 x 12 c43 x 15 x 15 cm, 16 7/8 x 5 7/8 x 5 7/8 in, LO.1231, POA. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
Apulian Red-Figure Bell Krater, 400 BCE - 300 BCE. Terracotta, 32 x 34 x 34 cm, 12 5/8 x 13 3/8 x 13 3/8 in, AM.0022, POA. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
Roman Period Stucco Funerary Mask of a Man, 2nd century CE - 3rd century CE. Stucco, 26 x 21 x 12 cm, 10 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 4 3/4 in, X.0441, POA. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
Roman Period Stucco Funerary Mask of a Woman, 2nd century CE - 3rd century CE. Stucco, 35 x 25 x 20 cm, 13 3/4 x 9 7/8 x 7 7/8 in, FF.077, POA. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
Chinesco Style (Type C) Nayarit Terracotta Flute in the form of a Phallus, 300 BCE - 300 CE. Painted Terracotta, 53 x 14 x 14 cm, 20 7/8 x 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in, X.0204, POA. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
Sculpture of a Spirit Guardian, China, Tang dynasty, 618 CE - 908 CE. Earthenware, 34 x 10 x 14 cm, 13 3/8 x 4 x 5 1/2 in, LA.562, POA. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.
Aquamanile in the shape of a Bird, Central Asia, 8th century CE - 11Th century CE. Red Earthenware, 31.8 x 29.2 x 12.7 cm, 12 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 5 in, LO.852, POA. Courtesy Barakat Gallery.