Johannes Nagel is an artist committed to exploring the many possible ways of producing a vessel. Nagel’s work ranges in size from the sitting-room scale to the monumental. Through it, he deconstructs both the historic and contemporary meanings of the term “vase.” The methodology, both material and theoretical, is informed by twentieth century art, criticism, and theory.

Not only does he apply painterly swaths of color to his vases, he signs them in prominent and visible places, deliberately moving away from pottery’s tradition of discreet stamps and maker’s marks. Rather than closing onto themselves, Nagel’s vessels appear at times to be sliced and cut open at their extremities. In the case of these containers full of holes, the interior competes with and complements the exterior; together they resists the very idea of “containing."

The gaps in the surface are a defining feature of many of the pieces produced by slip-casting porcelain in sand. They form where the clay meets the edges of the mold— each of which is in and of itself a unique container, good for a single use. They are formed in the sand by the artist’s own hands; it’s a technique Nagel invented himself and which introduces an additional layer of chance onto a medium already subject to the high level of indeterminacy involved in glazing and firing.

Sand-casting is an approach which both circumvents the serial connotation of casting and allows Nagel to exist at a distance from the potter’s wheel. It also paints a vivid image of a vessel forming in a void. No longer does a vase only hold empty space— it fills it and the evidence of this act is left scored into it’s surface.

It’s a call-back to questions Nagel has asked before: what sort of function do vessels have today?— and what may they contain?

Johannes Nagel studied at University of Art and Design Burg Giebichenstein, where he is also an assistant professor. He began his career as a potter as an apprentice to Japanese-born Canadian ceramist, Kinya Ishikawa in Val-David, Quebec. He has since developed an international dossier of shows, awards, and residencies. Nagel's work is shown and collected internationally, and may be glimpsed in a diverse set of museum collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Ariana, and the Keramion.

Most recently, Nagel has been awarded the Keramikmuseum’s  2019 Westerwald Prize, one of the highest awards for ceramics in Europe.

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