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Photo by Kim Riley
Three ceramic works are by Francesc Burgos.
"Simplicity is not a goal, but one arrives at simplicity in spite of oneself, as one approaches the real meaning of things." Constantin Brancusi

If you've lately found yourself aching for an exhilarating visual affair with art, descend the stairs of Phillips Gallery and there, in the lower level's Dibble Gallery, bask in the singular ceramic sculpture of Francesc Burgos.

Each subtle, near-Brancusian form, with its bleached/chalky surface, elicits a satisfied grin and a recalcitrant finger longing to touch; each delicately thin rod bending to penetrate ceramic couplings invokes pre-adolescent fantasies of erecting structures in which to play: Burgos' art speaks to the natural designer in us all.

Prior to creating ceramic artworks, Burgos — of Spanish/Catalonian descent — worked in architectural design. He had also been involved in product, graphic and textile design, and the sum of his experiences is evident in his art.

At one moment Burgos takes the quintessence of architecture and textiles and merges them with quasi-anthropomorphic shapes. Next he seems to have fused function and form into platterlike objects looking vaguely familiar yet strangely archaic; some sculptures appear alien in form, as if Burgos has sneaked a peek at an interplanetary Montgomery Ward catalog.

"I work mostly with stoneware," Burgos said, "which I often leave unglazed in order to emphasize form. I construct my pieces by pinching wads of clay, or I build them with slabs."

Burgos also makes slip-cast porcelain forms from models previously built of folded paper, he said.

"Much of my work involves the use of plaster molds. Molds have a strong tradition in ceramic history."

However, the most impressive aspect of Burgos' art is his ability to simplify form without diminishing structural interest. It is this that catches and holds the eye; shadows generated by his shapes testify as to the strength of his figures.

It is an impressive exhibit that needs to be seen before it closes Nov. 12.

E-mail: gag@desnews.com