In this series, works depicting physical aging and a gendered issue surrounding dementia are engaged from a female point of view. Questions surrounding social responsibility are visited through an intimate look at a mother’s dilemma. My focus shifted to my mother after a few years of observing and caring for her while she navigated her days living with Alzheimer’s disease. My mother’s countenance emerges in the work through clay figures over a period of time and through multiplicity. By investigating concrete representations and creating situations that the viewer will identify with, I hope to engage the viewer in a deeper way.
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.
I have developed a process utilizing my knowledge of various casting methods and glaze, chemistry to create forms made entirely glaze. The color and texture is appealing and repulsive at the same time. When viewed through a magnifying glass the surface resembles Scanning Electron Micrographs of cancer cells. The fragile and fleeting appearance of these pieces symbolizes the transient nature of human life. This series of glaze, casted hands represent the genetic passing of disease from generation to generation. It is my fear that my family’s history with cancer is somehow genetic.
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? 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.
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.
Chairs are an essential part for our every day existence,they virtually go unnoticed. Yet how we use them tells us something about the person who uses them. By creating this series of artist’s chairs in clay I transform something otherwise mundane and challenge our preconception of the use of materials and prompt a closer look at the seemingly ordinary.
Vessels is a collection of work that explores the idea of vessels, both as containers and as metaphors for people and their emotions. My artwork is often about thinking and reflecting – in this case, investigating the different meanings and connotations of vessels. For example, I am interested in the psychoanalytic idea of caregivers as emotional containers, who can hold and re-interpret strong feelings. I am also fascinated by alchemy and particularly the use of vessels in alchemy as sites of transformation.
In making this work, I have become interested in vessels that cannot be used or that will not contain anything. I imagine that vessels can be like people – elegant, funny, self-contained, ineffectual, silly, detached or spilling their contents – and I have played with their form to reflect this. I enjoy mistakes and forms that are intentionally wrong – collapsing spouts and vases without openings. I am also attracted to the anthropomorphic qualities of pots and vases.
I enjoy the freedom of working in clay, which I find a very direct and playful medium. I am also interested in the dialogue between these ceramic pieces and my collage work, which I can use to infer ideas and create narratives.