Shary Boyle’s Delicate, Unsettling Porcelain Sculptures

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When we think of porcelain sculptures, a few related aesthetics come to mind: the genteel, romantic 18th-century Rococo stuff; German Hummel figurines of the ’30s; and the kind of kitsch crap you see in souvenir stores and on the Home Shopping Network — think Precious Moments. There is a certain saccharine, overripe wholesomeness to all of these styles. That is what makes the porcelain sculpture of Toronto artist Shary Boyle so strikingly unexpected and irreverent. Although her works embrace the classic, brightly colored, red-cheeked style and feature familiar subjects (scenes from mythology, fancily dressed women), they also delve into the grotesque: To Colonize the Moon shows an unnervingly young, serene Perseus holding a bloody dagger and staring at the severed head of Medusa. Another sculpture, Little Brown Bat, depicts five legs sticking out from a full, disembodied, pink skirt. See those and more of our favorite Shary Boyle sculptures after the jump.

Shary Boyle, To Colonize the Moon, 2008, porcelain, enamel, gilt, diamond, mirror, 40cm x 29cm x 25cm. All images courtesy of SharyBoyle.com, via How to Be a Retronaut.

Shary Boyle, The Rejection of Pluto, 2008, porcelain, enamel, gilt, mirror, LED lights, 36cm x 25cm x 20cm

Shary Boyle, The Rejection of Pluto (LED lights active), 2008, porcelain, enamel, gilt, mirror, LED lights, 36cm x 25cm x 20cm

Shary Boyle, The Rejection of Pluto (LED lights active), 2008, porcelain, enamel, gilt, mirror, LED lights, 36cm x 25cm x 20cm

Shary Boyle, Little Brown Bat, 2008, lace draped porcelain, gilt, 23cm x 23cm x 14cm

Shary Boyle, Little Brown Bat, 2008, lace draped porcelain, gilt, 23cm x 23cm x 14cm

Shary Boyle, Snowball, 2006, porcelain, china paint, 24cm tall. Collection of the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.

Shary Boyle, Ouroboros, 2006, porcelain, china paint, gilt, 16cm tall

Shary Boyle, La Bête, porcelain, china paint, gilt, feather, 22cm tall. Collection of The Paisley Museum, Scotland.

Shary Boyle, 2005, porcelain, china paint, 20cm tall. Collection of the National Gallery of Canada.

Shary Boyle, 2005, porcelain, china paint, 20cm tall. Collection of the National Gallery of Canada.

Shary Boyle, 2004, porcelain, china paint, gilt, 22cm tall. Collection of the National Gallery of Canada.

Shary Boyle, Haunt, 2004, porcelain, china paint, gilt, 24cm tall. Collection of The Paisley Museum, Scotland.

Shary Boyle, 2004, porcelain, china paint, 26cm tall. Collection of the National Gallery of Canada.