Gaku Shakunaga: New Pyramids in Black / Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo
Gaku Shakunaga: New Pyramids in Black / Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo July 10-19, 2014
Gaku Shakunaga (b. 1978) creates swirling stoneware pyramids drenched in luscious black glaze accentuated with lacquer. One of the younger ceramists of Yufuku, Shakunaga represents the future of Japanese ceramic sculptors, of artists who are not afraid to create non-functional ceramics that are devoid of function, and are challenging conceptual objects that are modes of expression as well as outlets for the artist’s aesthetics. Having graduated with a degree in sculpture from the leading Tokyo University of Arts, the most prestigious of art universities in Japan, Shakunaga’s new works find the artist combining the forms of his previous Sekiso series with his new-found muse in black.
Each and every Shakunaga work is comprised of individual clay slabs of varying thickness that are flattened using boards and are stacked upon one another in layers. Each slab is torn from a larger slab of clay using his hands, which leaves a rugged texture to his surfaces. His clay is a mixture of local Toyama clay, porcelain clay, and the Mogusa clay used in Shino ware. After an initial bisque-firing, a black glaze is air-brushed onto the surfaces, and the work is fired again in a gas kiln. In the final stages, Shakunaga sandblasts the surfaces of his works, and then polishes the surfaces and then low-fires the work to create a shimmering bronze-like lustre to his surfaces. Shakunaga’s technique is unique, and is the materialization of his fascination with stacking clay pieces together as if composing architecture.
The upcoming exhibition will display approx. 15 new works in both black and bronze glaze, and will be the artist’s largest body of new work since his previous exhibition in 2012.
Gallery hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11 am - 6 pm. Final day closes at 4 pm.
With its magnificent Harbour backdrop and glorious weather, Sydney is a fabulous city for spending a day (or several) dropping in and out of art galleries. You can choose between major players, like the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art, where you’ll be treated to masterpieces and significant temporary exhibitions, and independent laneway affairs, where you’ll get the chance to acquaint yourself with specialised collections and local artists. Here’s a hand picked selection of the best places to go.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales Perched on the edge of the domain and just a stone’s throw from the Harbour, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (or AGNSW) is housed in a gorgeous nineteenth century building, featuring expansive rooms and high ceilings. There are some great hotels in Sydney near it. The permanent collection is impressive, including a wide range of Australian works, plus there’s a constantly evolving program of temporary exhibitions, special events and talks. Between November 2014 and March 2015, for example, the gallery will host Australia’s biggest ever Pop Art showcase, displaying works from lenders all over the world. Featured artists will include Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein and many others. The AGNSW is open seven days a week between 10am till 5pm. Entry to the permanent collection is free, but there’s sometimes an admission fee for temporary exhibitions.
The Museum of Contemporary Art A fifteen-minute walk from the AGNSW will get you to the Museum of Contemporary Art (or MCA), situated right on Circular Quay. You can see the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from the front steps (and from the top floor bar, should all the art-perusing work up a thirst!). The MCA is the only museum in Australia that’s 100 percent committed to contemporary art. Its permanent collections and visiting shows are sourced from both within Australia and all over the planet. It is open every day between 10am and 5pm. Entry is free, though you might have to pay a small fee for special exhibitions.
Karlangu Aboriginal Art Centre Before Europeans invaded Australia, the Indigenous population had been making art for at least 60,000 years and perhaps much, much longer. So an artsy visit to Sydney wouldn’t be complete without dropping into the Karlangu Aboriginal Art Centre (129 Pitt St, City). Here, you can wander through one of the best Aboriginal art collections to be found anywhere. The Centre also plays a vital role in the distribution and promotion of Indigenous art by supplying it to various galleries, museums and private buyers both domestically and internationally. It’s open daily between 10am and 5pm.
White Rabbit One of the world’s largest and most important collections of contemporary Chinese art is held at White Rabbit, which you’ll find hidden away in the inner city suburb of Chippendale, at 30 Balfour Street. Established by Kerr and Judith Neilson, the gallery specialises in art created since the turn of the millennium. In excess of 400 artists are profiled and new additions are being made all the time. Plus, there’s a lovely teahouse, which is the perfect place to take a break after you’ve spent hours browsing. White Rabbit is open between 10am and 5pm, Wednesday through to Sunday.
Brett Whiteley Studio This was the workplace and home of one of Australia’s most famous artists, Brett Whiteley. He passed away in 1992 and, since 1995, the AGNSW has run the space as an art gallery. Complete with unfinished artworks, book collections, paintbrushes and a graffiti wall, it presents an unusual opportunity for an intimate experience of Whiteley’s life. The studio is located at 2 Raper Street, Surry Hills (not far from White Rabbit) and opening hours are 10am-4pm, Friday to Sunday.