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Playing with Fire explores the life and art of Paul Soldner, the revolutionary ceramic artist who helped turn a three thousand year old craft into an accepted form of Fine Art. As a child, Paul never thought he was an artist or would ever become one. But after living through the harsh realities of World War 2, Paul, like many Abstract Expressionist artists, realized the fleetingness of life and decided to pursue a life following his passions. At age 32, he made a career change and moved to LA to become a ceramist. As they say in the books…the rest is history.
Donned as “The Miles Davis of Ceramics” or “The Father of American Raku”, Soldner made countless contributions to the ceramics world: from his discoveries of break through techniques, to his mechanical inventions which free the ceramist to focus more on the art form rather than the mechanics of the medium, to his masterful and astounding artistic creations, to his unorthodox style of teaching.
A maverick in his own right, there is no separation of art and life for Paul. The man IS his art. Considered a Zen master or sage amongst students and peers, one learns as much, if not more, from Paul through the wordless simple interactions of daily life, as they would in the art studio. Yet this osmotic style of teaching should not be considered passive. Donned as “The teacher of all teachers”, Soldner always encourages his students to take risks and embrace the accident, for with this curiosity and courage, they will find their own voice.
“There can be no fear of losing what was once planned and there must be an urge to grow along with the discovery of the unknown…make no demands, expect nothing, follow no absolute plan, be secure in change, learn to accept another solution and, finally, prefer to gamble on your own intuition.” (Soldner, 1973)
Paul’s nature is contagious: artists and non artists alike, walk away from this film feeling like they have just touched upon their creative potential and that they too, can do whatever they set their mind upon. An inspiration for all, Playing with Fire explores the evolution of a creative force and tells the story behind the passion, inspiration and genius that makes Paul Soldner, both the man and the work, absolutely unique in the world of modern art.
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