by Nick Smith
Danny McSweeney, owner of Spark Studios and Gallery on Hagood, is devoting his space to his old mate Waseem Touma for Ipseity through Oct. 5. The two sculptors met at Kansas City Art Institute and McSweeney’s been looking for an excuse to show his work ever since. Touma’s art is so ambitious and twisted that I’m willing to turn a blind eye to this abject favoritism.
Touma could be seen as the Stephen King of contemporary ceramic sculpture – he’s a nice guy, he’s prolific and his deconstruction of the mysteries of nature’s guts and bones was re-energized by a nasty car accident a few years ago. But the analogy stops there. There’s no horror in his work. He uses a preponderance of porcelain to create delicate bony structures that rise from the floor or hang from the ceiling. He also paints, draws and makes small stoneware sculptures. “Aquatic Plant” and “Internal Similarities” wouldn’t look amiss in the ocean depths, attracting sea life with their delicate, flowing shapes.
“Expansion” is the largest piece. With a trunk and limbs, it looks like a suspended elephant’s skeleton complete with ribcage. In other sculptures, Touma adds blood red tool dip to the white porcelain slip, increasing the organic feel of the whole show. Like King, Touma has bounced back from his terrible accident in a memorable way.