The porcelain sculptures of Maria Rubinke are at once innocent and grotesque, traditional and yet unconventional. The glowing white surface of the ceramic figures immediately draw the viewer in, however closer inspection reveals a gruesome tableaux that's in stark contrast with the fragility of the material. Rips and tears of their anatomy, gun shot wounds to the head, and babies posed as ice cream treats give way to psychological content with humoristic undertones. "It's Better to Burn Out than Fade Away" introduces a fresh body of work by Rubinke all of which was created during her 27th year - a year that has offered emotional ups and downs. The exhibition reflects the artist's personal experiences and as the the title suggests, takes inspiration from "Club 27", a group of legendary artists whose lives tragically ended at the young age of 27. Most notable is "I Died a Hundred Times" which shows a porcelain girl standing on a heap of black skulls, holding an infant whose umbilical cord is still attached. Not only is the title a quote from an Amy Winehouse song (Club 27 member), the ceramic sculpture is a poetic portrayal of a life ending before the experience of really living.
The symbolic language is powerful throughout the exhibit. Even the dense installation of birch trunks stand from floor to ceiling, earth to sky are void of roots. This lack of foundation mirrors Rubinke's work as the stability of the porcelain girl has been overturned and is left helpless only to begin anew.
"It's Better to Burn Out than Fade Away" runs through May 17th at Martin Asbaek Gallery. Images via the gallery.