Alex Mandli’s pieces illustrate an understanding of the ceramic traditions of the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Native American cultures, which were each famed for their work in the medium. However, Mandli infuses his works with a contemporary American sensibility. His functional vessel or platter forms become the starting point for the creation of glazed areas which really function as three-dimensional paintings and drawings.
His preferred material is earthenware and Mandli’s forms are simple, solid and honest. There is also an underlying sense of sophistication for the forms of vessels and platters are well designed. His drawn decoration spills elegantly across the surface of Mandli’s pottery with a casual but assured air.
Mandli’s restless eye keeps him searching for new forms and new design motifs. In the past 30 years, he has created entire groupings of ceramics dealing with specific themes and designs. Each new development has brought a subtle change and increased maturity to his work. Part of the enjoyment in viewing Mandli’s pieces is the sense of curiosity and excitement in discovery which he communicates. This sense of investigation and restlessness motivates Mandli’s works, infusing these pieces with a sense of vitality and life.
[Commentary for Award of Merit] A finely hand-thrown form, beautifully enriched by the miracle of firing.
Art Professor Emeritus, University of Tennessee
Juror for 2011 Alive in the Arts
Plymouth Arts Center, Plymouth, Wisconsin
Mandli adapts a more or less conventional saltware palette to playful purposes, with pleasingly lively results.
February 27, 1983
Review of exhibit Utilitarian Mud
Milwaukee Art Museum