Anders Ruhwald: The Vessel is a Body is a Skull is a Mask

Opening: Friday, Jun 7, 2019 5 – 8 pm
Friday, Jun 7 – Jul 20, 2019

1709 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

Volume Gallery is pleased to announce The Vessel is a Body is a Skull is a Mask,  an exhibition of new works by Anders Ruhwald,opening on Friday, June 7th from 5-8 PM at 1709 W Chicago Ave, Chicago IL, 60622.

If the body had been easier to understand, nobody would have thought we had a mind” Richard Rorty (2008). 

Anders Ruhwald’s third solo exhibition at Volume Gallery departs from the subversion of an essential archetype: the vessel. Through this act, he continues to mine the relationship between the body and the object with new works that converge around one of the central metaphorical expressions in ceramics, the vessel as a body.

In The Vessel is a Body is a Skull is a Mask, Ruhwald further explores the significance of the vessel through the lens of language. The Danish word for vessel, skål, is linguistically tied to the word skull originating in the Old Norse word skalli that means shell. In this triangle of words and meanings a relationship between body, surface, and container is established suggesting a representational conflation of external and internal experiences of the world. 

Between two oversized and roughly shaped ears, the installation positions the viewer within a metaphorical vessel – the space inhabited by the mind. As the viewer becomes aware of their placement inside this figurative skull, the experience takes a metaphysical turn. Centrally placed in the gallery, large amorphous sculptures linger between bodily representation and abstraction as a large-scale perforated mass of material. The ten ceramic masks on stands – five with eye-like orifices, the others without – are silent onlookers returning the audience’s gaze. In this encounter between the observer and the observed, there is a layering of the consciousness that implicates the audience in the overall experience of the work.


Anders Herwald Ruhwald (born 1974, Denmark) lives and works in Chicago and Detroit. He graduated from the Royal College of Art in London in 2005. Ruhwald has had more than 30 solo exhibitions in the last 20 years in museums and galleries around the world including Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (UK), The Museum of Art and Design (Denmark), Casa Museo Asger Jorn (Italy) and MOCA Cleveland (USA). During the same time his work has been shown in more than 100 group shows at venues like Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), Fondation d’entreprise Richard (Paris), Denver Art Museum (USA), Taipei Yingge Museum (Taiwan) and Kunsthal Charlottenborg (Copenhagen).

In June 2019 Ruhwald will open the permanent installation, “Unit 1: 3583 Dubois,” inside an apartment on Detroit’s east side. Ruhwald has worked for six years on this immersive 7 room installation which considers the effects of fire in the context of the domestic and intimate. The installation is supported by the Knight Foundation, the Graham Foundation, the Danish Art Foundation, and the Gilbert Family Foundation.

Ruhwald's sculptures are represented in over 20 public museum collections including The Victoria and Albert Museum (UK), The Denver Art Museum (USA), The Detroit Institute of Art (USA), Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA), Musée des Arts Décoratifs (France), The National Museum (Sweden), The Museum of Art and Design (Denmark), and Taipei Yingge Museum (Taiwan).

Ruhwald's work has been featured in books including Vitamin C (Phaidon), Contemporary Clay and Museum Culture (Routledge), Breaking the Mould (Black Dog) and it has been reviewed by publications like TL Magazine (Fr), Guardian (UK), Wallpaper (UK), (US), Financial Times and Avenuel (Rep. of S. Korea).

In 2011 he was awarded the Gold Prize at the Icheon International Biennial in South Korea. He also received a Danish Art Foundation three-year work-stipend in 2010 and the Sotheby’s Prize (UK) at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2007.

Ruhwald has lectured and taught at universities and colleges around Europe and North America since 2006 and has held an associate professorship at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was the Artist-in-Residence and Head of the Ceramics Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, USA from 2008-2017. Currently he is a visiting professor at the Oslo Academy of the Arts in Norway.

View Available Works by Anders Herwald Ruhwald


Image: Anders Herwald Ruhwald, Second Skin (Rose/Blue), 2019.