The Language of Vessels: Peter Schlesinger

12 April - 10 May 2024

Tristan Hoare is delighted to present a solo exhibition of works by New York-based sculptor, painter and photographer Peter Schlesinger (b. 1948). Apart from a small exhibition interrupted by Covid in 2021, this will be Schlesinger’s first major exhibition in London since 1976, presenting works on paper, ceramic sculptures and a wall-mounted ceramics together for the first time. Comprising of works from the 1990s alongside more recent creations, the exhibition represents a culmination of over three decades of investigations into clay and form.


A student of both Eastern and Western ceramics, Schlesinger has developed a style and language of his own. Crafting by hand, he makes large sculptures using a rustic palette of faded greens, blues, golds and browns. The shapes are reminiscent of ironwork, bronze and ceramic artefacts from  antiquity – both familiar and unplaceable at the same time. His stoneware tiles, inscribed with thick, angular shapes call to mind the austere geometry of ancient scripts. These are vibrant and original works which maintain a living connection to the past.


Schlesinger began his artistic career as a student of painting and photography in LA at USCS and UCLA in the mid 1960s, and then at the Slade School of Art in London from 1968 for a further four years. After his studies, Schlesinger continued to live and work as a painter in London, until he moved to New York in 1978. In the late 1980s, he found himself at a dead end: “I didn't know what to paint any more. No one was interested in figural paintings in the 80s.” In 1987 he made what would prove to be a momentous decision: he installed an electric kiln and pivoted to ceramic sculptures. Four years later, Schlesinger held his first ceramics exhibition and finally found his metier in what he calls ‘the language of vessels.’ 


Shown for the first time in the UK are Schlesinger’s drawings; both beautiful and simple, they provide us with an insight into his process. His style is quick, linear, almost expressionistic and demonstrates a confidence of hand and eye. From these simple experiments in ink, the painted vases become three dimensional realities, grounded vessels with a quiet charisma. 

The Language of Vessels is a testament to Schlesinger’s accomplishments in sculpture. We have had the honour of exhibiting his works at the gallery in two group exhibitions (Folds, 2021 and Cracked, 2021), as well as an interrupted solo show in 2021. This exhibition will give London audiences the chance to explore Schlesinger’s work in depth between 12th April and 10th May in Fitzroy Square.