What Andrew Lord is up to is so clear your can write a recipe for it. Take all the great modern still-life paintings and translate them into three-dimensional objects in ceramic. Sprinkle in ancient history by cleverly making stoneware look like patinated metal--grimy old iron or eroding pewter.
Thus "16 Pieces Angled" becomes a jagged early Jackson Pollock field painting and the remnants of a Viking orgy. "Jug, Vase and Dish Geometry" is at once a fuming World War II Picasso and a table set for a frugal repast for a Greek shepherd. A coffee service takes in Cezanne and the Mad Hatter's tea party.
Lord's show here last year was impressive. This populous exercise is a tour de force taking in everything from the dignified poverty of Georgio Morandi to the visceral energy of Dubuffet. Yet there is nothing merely adept here, nothing in the deadhead spirit of the current fashion for making art by wearily copying existing work.
Lord is surely the most gifted ceramic artist to appear since the heyday of Ken Price and the California ceramics movement of yore. Lord's work is intelligent, frantically inventive and unmistakably art even in its nominally utilitarian form. Oddly enough, it needs those familiar shapes of cup, vase and platter as a frame of reference to remind us of what it is doing and to give its quality a chance to sneak up on us. The only time Lord's work falters is in three pieces that come on like pure Neo-Expressionist sculpture. It recalls the old paradox--the best way to make art is to not make art. (Margo Leavin Gallery, 812 N. Robertson Blvd., to Dec. 23.)