Object Portraits

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Object Portraits
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For over a thousand years the Chinese have painted portraits of art objects in their collections, both to extol the aesthetic 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 BC – 1400 AD. 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 1970s, 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 Hiroshi 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.

Object Portraits is published to coincide with exhibitions of Eric Zetterquist’s photographs at Philadelphia Museum of Art; Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum, Bangkok; and The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka.
  • Hardcover
  • 8" x 11"
  • 76 pages
  • 48 plates
  • Nazraeli Press, 2017
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-59005-461-1
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