The Nevica Project

Ralph Bacerra

Ralph Bacerra (1938, Garden Grove, California - June 10, 2008) was a ceramic artist and career educator. He lived and worked in Los Angeles, California. His work is recognizable by its vivid use of color and contrast, which are the result of a delicate and multi-staged process of overglazing. He is also known for geometrically complicated and technically difficult forms. His decorative aesthetic draws from Asian sources, most notably Japanese Imari and Kutani pieces, Persian miniatures, and Chinese Tang ceramics. The surface imagery of Bacerra’s sculptures is design-conscious and draws comparisons to M.C. Escher’s grid techniques and use of positive and negative space, as well as to the geometric sensibility and creation of movement and space associated with Vassily Kandinsky. Bacerra has insisted upon an absence of metaphor:

“I’ve never really thought of my work in post-modern terms. But I suppose in many ways it fits the definition. My pieces are based on traditional ideas and engage in certain cultural appropriations—in form, in design, in glaze choices. However, my work is not post-modern in the sense that I am not making any statements—social, political, conceptual, even intellectual. There’s no meaning or metaphor. I’m committed more to the idea of pure beauty. The finished piece should be like an ornament, exquisitely beautiful.”