Ideology:In a 2016 interview with the art historian T.K. Sabapathy, Dr Iskandar was emphatic that ‘slab work’ pieces were “not pottery”*. He went on to memorably describe slab building as akin to joining pieces of wood together where “clay is the gum”*.
Essentially, Dr Iskandar was differentiating wheel-formed pottery from hand-built slab constructions such as that exemplified in Slab Work. In this piece, Dr Iskandar creates a continual tension between structure and freedom. The expressive, random strips of varying sizes and directions on its body are reined in by the structure imposed by its angular shape and the geometry of its elegant handle. Similarly, the courtly, formal posture of its overall form and handle is relieved and softened by the free movement and colour of its decoration.
This stoneware slab-built vessel is decorated using resist techniques. Two handle-rests at each side of its mouth hold up an uncommon handle. Made of smoked bamboo and tied with wicker loops, this Vietnam-made handle was originally a hanger meant for the display of indigenous textiles.
*(Eds.) Low & Seng, Iskandar Jalil: Kembara Tanah Liat (Clay Travels), (National Gallery Singapore, 2016: p285)
Detail of Work:Year created : 2015
Weight : 7.5kg
Dimension : H 27.5 x 52.5 x 12 cm
Technical Info:Coil built
High-fired at 1300ºC, reduction gas-firing
Material:Stoneware (clay from UK), bamboo cane
Glaze:Sprayed with red stain, white slip and cobalt base glaze, with resist decoration
Seal:1 sakura motif, c.1990s. 1 oval, kanji, 1972. (at lower body)
2 sakura motif, c.1990s (at handle rest)