Artist Spotlight: Peter Jadoonath

Peter Jadoonath will tell us about his 20-year love affair with a Max Beckmann painting in a moment. Perhaps, if we are already familiar with Beckmann, we could have guessed it. There is something reminiscent in Jadoonath’s wares. He gives us dynamic fields of patterned surface against uninterrupted curves of form. Sometimes he activates the work with stylized figures and engages the user on multiple aesthetic and narrative levels. Beckmann is reported to have been staunchly against abstraction and maintained his work was a pursuit to "get hold of the magic of reality and to transfer this reality into painting." If our eyes are open to it, we can see this magic in Jadoonath’s vessels too. However, unlike Beckmann, Jadoonath is not haunted by darkness. His works, his practice and his approach to life are deliberately celebratory and humorous. His forms are grounded squarely at the intersection of volume, mass, elegance, and utility. The magic he imbues them with will make you smile every time you use them. You feel just like you are talking to a good friend. 

NCC: Tell us about your work.
PJ: I’ve been making pots in Minnesota for 18 years. For people who have seen my pots here and there, there probably is some sort of disjointedness, is that a word? For folks who have seen my pots consistently, they may understand that I’m always asking questions. Questioning my intent, abilities, comprehension, and assumptions. The pots I am making now are rooted in narratives of daily human life. Sometimes it’s within my lived experience, and sometimes not. The pots are built in a variety of ways, they are carved, etched, and embedded with pattern. Lately, I have been attaching heads and bodies to the pots as well. I remember in grade school making dioramas out of shoe boxes. That was so much fun. I’m trying to infuse that into the process as well. I’m basically trying to make pots that are drawings and drawings that are pots.

Drawing is something that I have always done. It’s the way I communicated with life as a young kid. When I initially started college, I wanted to be an animator, a traditional one, one that drew with a pencil. I studied that for a period of 3 years. I’m still trying it be an animator I suppose.

NCC: Are there other ways you supplement your professional activities?
PJ: I teach classes and host occasional workshops focused on pottery making. I also do some janitor and landscaping work.

NCC: What do you love the most about making your work?
PJ: I love laughing at myself in the studio. Sometimes I get ideas that are ridiculous, so I go ahead and make these objects. I get lost in wonderment of construction and play.

NCC: What is the hardest part?
PJ: I hate making glazes. Imagine making cookies, but each bag of flour, sugar, and chocolate chips weighs 50 pounds.

NCC: What are the goals for the future of your work?
PJ: I’m pretty excited these days. I have not been this excited since the early days back in the Bemidji State Ceramics Studio. I am starting to fire cone 6 salt and trying to minimize glaze. I will try to rely on the clay, slips, and the salt to embellish the shapes. Also, I have become aware of the physical toll that throwing pots has upon your body, back, shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands. I have had some bouts with tendonitis, and I have watched peers and mentors deal with their own pain. So I have decided to shift my work to slab-hand building more, but not completely. Anyway, I hope this will extend my body and invigorate and animate the pottery shapes as well.

NCC: What do you view as your biggest achievement so far?
PJ: My biggest achievement so far was being an invited guest on the St. Croix Pottery Tour last spring. I visited that tour so many times as a young adult, so to actually be a participant was pretty surreal.

NCC: What else are you excited about in your life?
PJ: Lately our oldest daughter, Zara, who is in first grade has been interested in doing magic tricks. So we got some books from the library and have been learning them together.

NCC: What art do you look at for eye candy?
PJ: When it comes to finding eye candy, I always have an open eye, so I am always stumbling upon things. There is one specific painting that always forces me to sit and calm my eye. A painting by Max Beckmann at MIA, it’s called “Blind Man’s Buff,” I have loved that painting for 20 years. I’m really into pencil and printmaking too. Check out Vija Celmins, “Ocean Surface", totally badass.