Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jorge Wilmot

Jorge Wilmot, the most distinguished artisan ceramicist of Mexico, died January 12, 2012 in Tonala, México, at the age of 83. He has been credited with the introduction of stoneware and other high fire techniques to México.  His work is known internationally for its austere, Oriental-inspired designs blended with Mexican motifs. He influenced generations of ceramicists at the school he established in Tonalá, Jalisco.

Jorge began his own artistic studies at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas in the Academy of San Carlos before going on to Europe. There he studied at the Instituto Franco-Italiano in Paris, and worked in Sweden with ceramicist Limberg Koge Londgren.

Returning to México, he worked for the ceramics industry in Monterrey, making a number of innovations in technique and design. He eventually relocated to Tonalá, Jalisco, by the 1960s to establish his own workshop.  When he arrived to Tonalá, he felt that many Mexican ceramics were stuck in the past with no clear direction on how to adapt tradition to the modern world. He also felt that much of Mexico’s ceramic production had technically degraded. Using his international experience, he experimented with new ceramic forms, and new methods of firing, becoming one of the first artisan ceramicists to use gas ovens on a large scale. This facilitated his introduction of stoneware techniques and the recreation of the native “bruñido” pottery but fired at high temperatures.  During this time he held annual exhibits of his works at the Inés Amor Gallery bringing him much attention.

Wilmot also influenced Mexican ceramics by the blending of traditional Mexican designs and motifs with international and modern influences. Wilmot combined pre-Hispanic designs and motifs with modern elements as well as international influences, especially those from Asia.  Wilmot integrated Chinese crackled glazing (Jung Yao and Ko Yao) into a number of his pieces along with “celadon” and pale blue hues. His designs show a more austere Oriental influence rather than the common Mexican tradition of adding Baroque elements.

He was quoted as saying “La cerámica de las artes es una de las más antiguas y a su vez de las más modernas” (Ceramics is one of the oldest and most modern art forms.) He recognized to the need to preserve tradition and modify it.

The photos came from a retrospective of Jorge Wilmot at CASA in San Agustín Etla in January of 2010.  

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