Friday, 8 November 2013

FORM AND FUNCTION: Purity and elegant simplicity define Jag Mehta's exquisite line of ceramics

MOULDED: Fine examples of Mehta's work, on view this month at the Bolivar Gallery. Below, the artist.

"Normally, when I'm working with clay, the clay is telling me what to do with it," explains legendary artist Jag Mehta of his process for turning out some of the finest, most exquisitely textured ceramics this side of the Caribbean. Taking in his new solo exhibition at the Bolivar Gallery (it opened Thursday), one can't help but marvel at the elegant simplicity and stunning form of the earthenware pieces that comprise the fair-sized collection, Mehta's first in over two years. 

Even more noteworthy, all the pieces were made by hand and boast a beautiful finish complemented by the artist's signature palette of pure white glaze, some tinted, some with oxides. "The thing about Jag's work," remarks art collector Ossie Harding, keynote speaker at the exhibition opening, "is that there is no fancy decoration that distracts you from the form. He's a vessel-maker whose work exudes visual creativity and elegance of form."

A hotelier by profession, now retired, Mehta came to Jamaica from India at the dawn of the 1970s, making his mark with the SuperClubs chain and his fascinating work in ceramics. Folks like Harding, who has several Mehta pieces in his collection, believes the great ceramicist will continue to hold us in his thrall for years to come -- even as he approaches age 80. 

Says Harding, "His work represents the essential pottery and the epitome of form transformed by his own vision and influences across time and space."

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