Onka Allmayer-Beck Vessels

15 Dec 2022 - 03 Feb 2023


Ana Mas Projects is pleased to present ‘Vessels’, the first solo exhibition in Spain by the artist Onka Allmayer-Beck (Vienna, 1979) that brings together a selection of recent ceramics. Objects that openly reveal the conditions of their creation and a treatment that appears intuitive to the naked eye, in which technical perfection is relegated to the experimental nature of the material.

The exhibition is accompanied by a text written by the reputable Alice Stori Liechtenstein.


Fizzy sweet-sour sherbet 

Clay is just a fancy name for mud. It is soil, which can be more or less fine-grained and contains minerals – such as kaolin – that give it plasticity when wet. Plasticity is the wonderful ability to be easily modelled. When clay dries, it hardens; when it is fired it strengthens. 

Clay is Onka Allmayer-Becks preferred medium. It has become her calling and daily bread; it is both her lover and master. Her studio is too large to be a cloisters cell but her work ethics are those of a monk. In only five years she has forged a path for herself.

Clay is a tactile medium. It is shaped with the hands and once the object is fired, glazed and ready, the desire to touch it is still real. The need for interaction is always there. There is also something of the alchemist at play: one time it works and the next time there are only shards. 

Onka Allmayer-Beck has become a master at hiding complexity under a candy-coloured glaze. The sweat, the tears, the failures and the frustrations are nowhere to be felt. It is just the pop of colour and the fizzy sensation of sweet-sour sherbet powder on the tongue.

Clay is an intuitive medium. Give a child a piece of clay and he will build a world out of it. It is also a highly emotive medium: there is an element of the human and the earth. It is primal and dirty so you can revel in the untidiness of it.

Onka Allmayer-Beck thrives in clay’s capacity to be of any shape, to allow for endless possibilities. Domes, cylinders, cubes, grids, spheres: spindly legs supporting oversized bodies. How do they hold their shape when they are wet? Her ceramics are deceptively easy. 

Clay has been used to make ceramics for at least 26,000 years. The earliest ceramics found so far, were in southern central Europe and were sculpted figures, not dishes. When glazing techniques developed, the ceramics were no longer porous and could be better used as vessels. 

In Onka Allmayer-Becks work the function is not always apparent, but add an apple, a carnation, or a candle and you will realise it is not an afterthought either. Her sculptures are objects and the objects are creatures frozen in mid-action. Literally, not metaphorically. 

This first Spanish solo show of the artist at Ana Mas Projects presents a selection of around twenty new pieces. Objects that have a presence, that do not blend in with the wallpaper and that habit does not make invisible. They are joyful and loud: a declaration of pleasure in the visual and fun in the making.


Alice Liechtenstein, 2022

Independent curator specialised in contemporary design

About the artist

Born in Vienna in 1979, Onka Allmayer-Beck studied fashion design at the renowned Central St. Martins Academy of Art between 2001 and 2004. After having worked for prestigious design brands in Milan such as Carol Christian Poell, Strenesse or Giorgio Armani, she begun a parallel path as an illustrator that led her to participate as an artist in her first art exhibitions. 

It is in 2016 when Allmayer-Beck returns to Vienna and ventures into a change of language from the two-dimensional to the three-dimensional with her first experiences as a ceramist. However, it was an exchange program to Abramtsevo in the north of Moscow, that gave her the decisive impetus to consolidate the particular modeling and assembly technique to which she has remained faithful to this day. 

Onka Allmayer-Beck’s works have been internationally showcased in different gallery spaces and institutions such as the Galerie Raum mit Licht, the Museum of Applied Arts and the Inopera  ble Gallery in Vienna (Austria), the M.A.X Museum of Chiasso (Switzerland), the Austrian Forum in Moscow (Russia), the Milan Triennale (Italy), the HDLU in Zagreb (Croatia) or the Krasnoyarsk Biennale in Siberia. Recently, she has participated as an artist in residence in the Schloss Hollenegg for Design (Austria) and as a guest artist at the Design Week of Vienna and the Superhouse Vitrine in New York.