The Asheville Art Museum was fortunate to receive a large gift from Maureen Littleton, the daughter of Harvey K. Littleton, late in 2020. The gift included works by artists like Dale Chihuly, Sergei Isupov, Harvey K. Littleton, Ginny Ruffner, James Tanner, and Toshiko Takaezu. The work that stands out the most to me is Paul Soldner’s, Untitled, vase.
Five years ago, prior to working for an art museum, I had little interest in art styles that I did not like—one of those movements happened to be Abstract Expression. The random lines, brush strokes, and three-dimensional forms seemed either incomplete or at least simplistic in that anyone could make an abstract artwork. I can happily say that I no longer feel this way with this vase being a great example of why this has changed for me.
First, the colors are beautiful. The reds, oranges, grays, browns, and purples are not only striking, but the single green thumbprint-sized spot near the bottom of the lip feels purposeful and makes this piece even more aesthetically pleasing. Second, the texture is not overly complex in that the abrasion lines and the impressions of foreign materials are not overdone. Finally, the form overall is delightful. The mushroom appearance reminds me of Toad from the Nintendo Mario videogames. Additionally, inside the vessel is a ball of clay that rattles around when the vessel is moved adding to the uniqueness of this work.
Overall, Soldner has successfully made a beautiful vase that is both abstract and expressive. Through my recently found appreciation for this artistic style, I hope someone else can admire looking at this vessel as well.