Are they vertebrae? Coral? Insect pods?

This week I introduce you to the ceramic artwork of Peter Lane, who shares a studio with the subject of last week’s post, Pamela Sunday.

The installation above, called ‘Seabed,’ was originally commissioned for the lobby (below) of super-swanky apartment building 350 West Broadway in Soho by real estate developer Aby Rosen, under the direction of architect William Georgis.

Lane will soon exhibit ‘Seabed III’ and IV – a much larger version and a smaller, half-scale version – at the Pavillon des Arts et du Design in Paris in April. He will be represented there through Chahan Gallery, whose sleek modernist furniture presents the perfect counterfoil to Lane’s rough-hewn aesthetic.

Rough in texture it may be, but Lane’s piece has a poetic quality captured in his artist’s statement accompanying ‘Seabed’:

I love the vision of a school of fish and their mysterious, silent coordination, of ghosts, or spirits, the ghosts of whales, their bones lying in peaceful patterns of the floor of the ocean, the demon spirit of Nature that we try to shelter ourselves from, but can only rejoin, hopefully as something rich and strange.

You can read about how Lane came up with the idea for the piece, and how he made it, on my blog, The Brooklynist.

Lane exhibited a number of pieces at Chahan Gallery in Paris last September. He is known for his “birch bark” lamps, vases and drum tables using a ceramic process that happened to turn out looking like, well, you guessed it, birch bark.

The lamp base on the table above is part of his ‘Scholar’s Rock’ series, amorphous masses of clay that he stacks up and squeezes into shape. They are named after Chinese scholar’s rocks that are chosen because of their uncanny resemblance to things like tigers or clouds.

“I’m experimenting and trying new things. I don’t have a specific style,” says Lane. “My favorite things are most spontaneous and come directly from the clay itself.”

The circular sculpted mirror frame hanging above the table is a spin-off of a larger project that Lane is currently working on, called ‘Homage a’ Palissy.’

This piece, above, is a preliminary study for this work-in-progress, which will ultimately be a ceramic relief 8 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

Bernard Palissy was an important artist and folkloric character,” Lane told me. “He was a stained-glass artist originally who basically had to invent ceramics from scratch. He burned all the furniture in his house trying to fire up his kiln to the right temperature!”

Apparently, Palissy’s masterpiece was a grotto that he made for Catherine de Medici. “The walls were encrusted with sculptures of seaweed, salamanders and shells to resemble an ancient Roman ruin underground.”

Clearly, Lane’s imagination is up to the task of capturing this fantastical underground cave, as these other studies and tests for ‘Homage a’ Palissy’ show.