Sculpture

"Like a classic abstract expressionist painting that has no planned beginning or end, Francie Bishop Good begins producing a solid silhouette in clay with only an intuitive sense of construction that investigates the often-sensual possibilities of handling a damp, amorphic irregular orb by pushing and pulling the materials in several directions until a plan of impromptu proportions, as they say, takes shape. The big difference from painting is that color and developing images are applied at the same moment, while ceramics must first be fashioned either by hand or by way of a potter’s wheel, and when the profile is considered complete, the raw piece is loaded into a brick kiln and fired. When it cools down it is known as ‘bisqueware.’ Bishop Good does not presuppose what hue needs to be applied in the initial stages of constructing a clay sculpture. In fact, the artist has stated that she “has no idea” what’s going to eventually surface in color until she begins the process of brushing on synthetic polymer paints, as well as sometimes using inks and occasionally even adding tiny beads. Francie Bishop Good is a fearless applicator of imaginative structures and often bizarre Day-Glo color schemes that seem to be natural allies for her free-wheeling approaches that can feel naïve and primitive while awkwardly balanced with a natural sophistication and built-in charm that can bring a smile to your face.

 

At first glance, Bishop Good’s ceramics may take on the appearance of child- like innocence and imperfection, as if these forms may have hatched from a pre-school ceramics class where students have prepared something unusual for Mother’s Day. But the second glance clearly reveals a deliberately unpretentious flavor of both asymmetric elements and color, for which the artist Jean Dubuffet strived for in his paintings and sculpture. There is a consistent dramatic richness to Bishop Good’s ceramic series that when observed as a unit offers the viewer a comprehensive and cohesive understanding of the thoughtful and somewhat precarious equilibrium between elegance and naïveté that provides a satisfying edge. Since the artist resides in South Florida not far from the Atlantic Ocean, it’s not surprising that many of her clay objects take on an aquatic, almost natural sponge-like essence and texture. Some of the works have a distinctive aura and tint of slightly bleached coral while others take on a shell-like personality that’s gently kissed by sea water algae and accented by dozens of deliberate “scored” punched holes (see: Voulkos!) that add a distinctive aquatic attitude. The work titled Floating Purple is an exquisite example of a careful blend of believable and sensitively brushed on pigment. In Broken Coil, the artist switches gears and proposes a simple form falling from its own weight, but perfectly anchored to the ground with the grace and proportion of a tabletop John Chamberlain. Oc- casionally Bishop Good adds a touch of humor, like de Kooning’s red lips that he incorporated into his paintings, or ceramicist Robert Arneson’s large heads that wear cheeky grins. In Melted Nikon, the pinch pot construction seems to have deteriorated after years of salt water punishment where all that’s left of this sunken treasure is a lens-less box camera skeleton waiting for a decisive moment. There is much to enjoy with these unassuming rolled out masses of clay, that amazingly come to life through the artist’s skilled hand and a good measure of well-baked objects rising to new heights that are made to last."

 

Bruce Helander

November 2018