Narumi Nekpenekpen’s Angels with Dirty Faces

my chipped tooth oozing, 2021, Glazed ceramic, 12” H x 9” W x 6” D

Text by Olivia Whittick

Breaking the mould of what we’ve come to expect from slab porcelain, far from a demure vase or an oat-colored dish, removed from any familiar hand-building process, Narumi Nekpenekpen’s sculptures look like if Bratz dolls had their genes scrambled with your morning coffee mug. Diverting radically within a medium often streamlined and classical, Nekpenekpen’s bisque works appear as heaped-up, patch-worked and Crazy Bones-esque figurines, their Bambi-eyes twinkling with emotion, exploding outwards with pouting lips and clowny platformed boots. Nekpenekpen says the ideas for her work come from the depths of her soul, her sculptures becoming a tangible form of what she feels inside, the dolls representing a diaristic catalogue of the artist’s psychological states. A graffiti-meets-sgraffito technique, mixed with a kawaii-infused form—no doubt fostered by the artist’s childhood years in Kashiwa, Japan—brings a refreshingly playful spontaneity and visceral punk sensibility to the canon of works in clay. Nekpenekpen’s solo show “Angels with Dirty Faces” is on at Real Pain, New York, through November 18th. 

reflections on a stream, splinters through
2021
Glazed ceramic
10.5” H x 7” W x 4.5” D

it tasted so good, how would I have known?
2021
Glazed ceramic
17” H x 13” W x 9” D

chipped tooth for a two(s)
2021
Glazed ceramic
18” H x 15.5” W x 15” D

sugar water (remix)
2020
Glazed ceramic
5.5” H x 10” W x 12” D

Images courtesy of Real Pain