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.
Hello friends. Welcome to Month in Review, a summary of the last month of activity here at Ceramics Now.
Article by Hagai Segev, 2014
“Up until two years ago, my father, Yaakov, had an agricultural mechanization workshop. Every time I visited the workshop, I found myself entranced by the power of the iron boards and the pile of black and rust colored iron pipes of different diameters, waiting to be used”, Simcha Even-Chen reminisces.
“When I saw the call for entries for the contest and exhibition at Kapfenberg, Austria, entitled “At the Moment”, I decided to use these memories of my father’s workshop. This was the birth of “A Moment Before…” a work I created in 2009, which has since led to the growth of a whole body of works”.1
A moment before…, 2009, Mixtures of stoneware and porcelain, 11.5 x 30 x 24 cm.
The memories that awakened this body are the evolution of the artistic research Even-Chen had been immersed in during the period of 2006-2009. This group of sculptures, entitled “Illusion”, was exhibited at The Fifth Israeli Ceramics Biennale at The Eretz Israel Museum (2008), among other places, and even received the Gold Coast International Ceramic Art Award. The article that appeared in the biennale catalogue read: “Simcha Even-Chen creates arrays of objects, reminiscent of game pieces. The pieces and geometric shapes simulate complex mathematical relations, based on scientific principles of simplification, alongside an awareness of the complexity of the game”.2
In her works from the period of 2009-2010, as her research progressed, the cubic shapes and structures gained a softer sculptural presence. They were positioned on solid, dominant foundations, where the first, barely noticeable signs of a light, flowing motion began to appear. In a piece named “Triple Balance” (2010), the massiveness and relatively harsh geometry of the top object is softened somewhat by the gentle presence of the foundation, which seemingly serves as only that, but its connection suggests an integrated statement, alongside a message of contrasts. This piece was featured in important exhibitions in Italy and Korea.3
In the piece entitled “Motion” (2011), all the elements of movement and flow can for the first time, be seen in the object itself, while the pattern printed on the object surface continues to explore the geometric shape, namely, the grid, which stands out against the background of evenly hued material. This piece was awarded first prize in an exhibition in Slovenia.4
Motion, 2011, Mixtures of stoneware and porcelain, 25 x 46 x 25 cm.
“My decision to add the element of movement to the existing physical balance gave birth to the open, broad, flowing motions and expanded the variety of imaginary shapes”, says Even-Chen. Her intentional break-away from defined shapes gave way to a new abundance of form, organic and free. The well-defined lines of geometric shapes were unleashed, and became the flowing lines that outline the movements of a dance, in which the body of the dancer is pushed to its limit. The flowing lines move in circles, twist, constrict and expand again. They face the material’s ability to carry itself to the limits of its natural properties.
While her earlier works studied the foundations of the material, these works examine its potential to reach infinity. Even-Chen’s work tests the material’s point of collapse, asking which points need to be supported to prevent the structure from breaking down or falling. This constant fear of collapse can be seen even now, when the sculptures are fired and stable. Their fragility is present in each and every moment. Within this fragility lies a hidden power: the almost inconceivable resilience of gentleness.
Zane Bennett Contemporary Art is pleased to announce Complications, an exhibition of works in glass by Matthew Szösz. The opening is Friday, June 27, at the gallery, from 5-7 pm as part of the Railyard Arts District Last Friday Artwalk.
Matthew Szösz, born in Providence Rhode Island, resides and practices in northern California. He holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, a Bachelor’s of Industrial Design and a Master of Fine Arts in Glass all from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and has been awarded grants by prestigious institutions in his field such as the L.C. Tiffany Foundation. Szösz has held numerous artist residencies all over the world including the Danish Royal Academy. Szösz has an extremely impressive resume for an artist of such a young age.
Szösz’s creative process involves investigation of his chosen materials, resulting in a dance or a dialogue between artist and material. His interest lies in the moment of transformation which is what fuels his impulse to create.
Sakiyama Takayuki and Fukumoto Fuku / Joan B Mirviss, New York
June 10 - August 22, 2014
Sakiyama Takayuki: Tidal Forms
Sakiyama Takayuki (b. 1958) continues to expound on his series: Chōtō - Listening to the Waves. Focusing now on the power of the ocean, the artist created these highly sculptural ceramic works to evoke the sublime nature of the waves and currents.
Sakiyama continues to mine the rugged coastline and beaches of his home on the Izu Peninsula for inspiration. The surfaces of his strikingly unique centrifugal forms give the appearance of having been made from sand. A special glaze that he developed highlights the intricate designs, which the artist achieves by carving the clay. Moving and receding across the surface, the texture also echoes raked Zen Gardens. These substantial double-walled vessels maintain true to their functional origins while conveying a highly sculptural quality.
Sakiyama’s place is firmly established in the canon of modern Japanese ceramics. Several of the artist’s vessels were recently featured in publications and exhibitions at major U.S. museums including: Through the Seasons: Japanese Art in Nature, Stone Hill Center, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA; Fired Earth, Woven Bamboo: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics and Bamboo Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The Betsy and Robert Feinberg Collection: Japanese Ceramics for the Twenty-first Century, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.
Watt’s Up? Ceramics and Light / Bernardaud Foundation, Limoges, France
June 13 - November 29, 2014
Watt’s Up? explores the relationship between ceramics and light by presenting some thirty works of art from all over the world, all created in recent years. Oddly enough, this relationship seems to inspire artists more than designers, trained to create objects such as lamps. Perhaps that’s because light transcends objects and gives us a whole new take on the world. Light affects our vision by modifying our perception of space and movement. In addition, there is a symbolic, poetic and mysterious element to it. As the French author Jean Giono once put it, very clever mysteries hide in the light. If light and ceramics go hand in hand, it’s mainly courtesy of porcelain’s unique properties of translucency, which can give light – produced by a candle or a tungsten filament – a soft, poetic aura and elicit a feeling of wonder. Ceramics offers a broad palette of sensations to play with. Faience is heavy, glossy and sensual in its interaction with light. Pottery absorbs lux units and asserts its own material plasticity to counter the intangible nature of light. Porcelain is lightweight and translucent, and the matte aspect of unglazed biscuit forms a striking contrast with the gloss of the glaze. Watt’s Up? is an unprecedented investigation of the latest innovations and know-how, both sensorial and intellectual in scope. As the topic was complex and broke new ground, it took nearly two years of research to bring these thirty or so works together. These works are by fifteen artists exhibiting for the first time in France. They are the result of technical prowess – manual and technical – as well as fresh creative thinking. None of them represent any particular school of thought, creative trend or artistic movement. Each work is an explosion of creativity, born of the artist’s reflections and inspiring a sense of wonder. This exhibition sheds new light on the art of ceramics.
Curated by Tirza Yalon Kolton
A general overview of the exhibition takes us on a stroll through an avenue, with structures on either side. It is a walk between the fine elegance of geometric shapes, and the almost smug solidity and sensuous texture of the surface of the material, scorched by living flames.
In his book, “Species of Spaces and Other Pieces”, Georges Perec describes his journey through space, and the sensations it awakened within him: “Our gaze travels through space and gives us the illusion of relief and distance. That is how we construct a space, with an up and a down, a left and a right, and in front and a behind, a near and a far”.¹
In my meetings with Simcha, in preparation for the exhibition, we frequently discussed the sensations that works of art induce in us: opposites, balances and imbalances, floating… The work of sculpting the massive clay matter sends a message of stability and a sense of floating in space. I am fascinated by the duality of the interaction between softness and harmonious flows, between the ascetic black and precise, repetitive patterns that speak of uncompromising harshness.