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Ceramic Artist - Tiburcio Soteno Fernández - With Our Collections

The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art

Although Tiburcio is very much part of the modern world, his working methods and his artistic sensibility reveal a continuity with the past. He identifies strongly with earlier generations of ceramic artists.

He tells us: "The Matlatzinca were the first inhabitants of the Lerma Valley. Later, in Aztec times, they paid tribute to the Aztec emperor. We know that the Matlatzinca made good pottery. In Metepec we find pottery remains in our fields, and I like to think that I have inherited some of their skill."

Teotihuacan incense burner

Tiburcio was greatly moved to see the ancient American collections at the Gardiner Museum: "I feel so privileged to see the work of past generations and I feel that my roots are here."

"I am pleased to know that the ceramic artists of ancient Mexico sometimes used moulds", Tiburcio noted as he admired this mould-made piece from ancient Teotihuacan (c. A.D. 250- 650). "Many pieces here were made in this way. I can also see wonderful pieces that were made entirely by hand."

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Teotihuacan jointed figure

Tiburcio admired the use of colour: "These artists used earth colours to get subtle shades of yellow, green, red and orange..."

Among his favourite pieces from central Mexico was this figure on the left, an articulated Teotihuacan figure (c. A.D. 450- 700) with limbs that move.

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Maya cylinder vase depicting a dancing Lord

Tiburcio spent a long time looking at the ceramics of the ancient Maya. "When I was at school, we learnt that the Maya were great astronomers, engineers and sculptors. But I feel very proud to see that they were also artisans of genius.

Their work was perfectly fashioned and exquisitely finished. Many surfaces were beautifully burnished. The Maya had such advanced ways of working. Today, centuries later, we can only guess at some of the many techniques that they used."

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Cylinder Vase

"Of course I am impressed by really complex pieces, like this one which has a section in relief. Or this one which is so tiny yet so delicate, modelled entirely with the fingertips. But I can also admire less complicated work. Things are no less beautiful because they are simple, or because they are mould-made."

Tiburcio admired the vase shown here depicting a spider monkey. "This is a beautiful vessel. Of course I am not a scholar or an archaeologist. I interpret what I see in my own way. Here is a monkey or perhaps a person dancing, but I can also see a crowd of people in the background."

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