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The Benefit
January 26, 2020

Benefit 2020 Auction Items: Peter Cunicelli’s ‘Red Tornado Vase’

About the Author
Deborah Kostianovsky

See the exhibition here


Think about it. You know you have some display space on that bookshelf in the living room, or maybe that pedestal in the hallway. You are drawn to a sculptural piece of art with vibrant, unique color, a color that stands out and is unlike the other carefully curated colors of your home. Well this is a gorgeous red that rarely exists among these parts. In fact, you haven’t really encountered that shade of red since your trip to India, when you were mesmerized by the earthy colors of the Indian spice market: the luminous yellow-orange of curry, the russet of cinnamon, the gold of mustard seed and ginger, and the brazen orange of turmeric. But it was the deep red of chili powder, a spice so robust in color and flavor, that most caught your eye. Maybe you have a few of those Indian spices in your kitchen. Or maybe you have similar earthy tones gracing your home. Regardless, you know you love that earthy, incandescent red of chili powder.
And Peter Cunicelli certainly delivers that chili powder vibe in his unique, elegant vessel. And of course, the color is just one layer to his beautiful work. Like its color, the shape is unusual, with unexpected angles and ledges which create an element of surprise and texture. He states: “My work is a reflection of my interest in contrast, the contrary, opposition. It’s as simple as my choice of a matte, monochrome outside contrasted with a mottled, multicolored glaze on the inside. The full, rounded, voluptuous sides are joined by clean, crisp lines. At one angle, a piece can be fluid, beautiful, and dignified. Turn it just a bit and the fluidity is stifled and it becomes awkward.” This vessel, measuring 14 X 12 X12 and titled Red Tornado Vase is rippled with undulating waves that casts shadows, accentuating the dark and light, as if adding a layer of paprika, cayenne, and maybe even black pepper to whole swaths of clay. The shape alludes to its title; its shape is like a tornado, expressing both the power and beauty inherent in nature. It’s clearly an elegant addition to any home, embodying the colors and joyous surprises of the Indian Holi Festival (India’s festival of colors), or any festival, for that matter. And with this in your home, you might as well have one.
Peter Cunicelli is an artist working in clay since 2000. He was a student at the Clay Studio, where he discovered hand-built vessels. He has experimented with multiple glazes and techniques. He has worked in Raku, wood fire, porcelain, paper clay, cassius basalt and other stoneware.
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