art news & reviews & Interviews. jeff bergman, editor

73rd – Kathy Butterly


Kathy Butterly: Enter at Tibor de Nagy is full of greatness.  I nearly skipped writing the review because a very good one has already been written (John Yau at Hyperallergic and also 3 years before at the Brooklyn Rail). Still, finding art to love and discuss is no easy task.

Butterly makes objects that can be viewed outside of our available “-isms”.  She makes ceramics.  What that says about her work is informative but woefully incomplete.  These strange voluminous things, often pursed and folded, are full of character.  In many ways I feel as though they are characters, small totems or deities, awaiting a bowl of honey and incense ash accumulation.  I would light a candle for these perfectly imperfect figures, hunched and mottled but gleaming with pure singularity.


Let me be less poetic; these are things.  Objects for collecting, showing, discussing and fetishizing.  You can’t use them in any functional way.  These 6 inch tall structures are sculpture no matter what the material.  But their material is on display because we know how it will react.  When I wander the Met, I must admit I am dumbfounded by Marble statuary and sandstone relics.  How, I wonder, do they find David in that lump of stone?  Here, we see the way their clay becomes folded because we know what the material does. Their colors, garish sometimes, often dated, eschew any standard color theory practice.


Butterly is a genius.  This much is plain.  Her figures are worlds unto themselves.  There are fore bearers in clay (Ohr) and there are fore bearers in abstraction (Murray), but her pieces deserve to be unencumbered by those associations.  Her work can stand alone: the visible materiality, droopy handled form and candy colored brilliance.   Lets soak it in like rays of sunlight.   Let us pay homage to our the newly born gods, lined up, lilting and prepared to receive our adoration.

butterly install

3 Responses to “73rd – Kathy Butterly”

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