Eiji Uematsu: Shooting Stars Found in the Garden at ARTCOURT Gallery, Osaka
November 14 – December 19, 2020
ARTCOURT Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Eiji Uematsu (b. 1949), an artist based in Iga, Mie Prefecture who uses clay and fire as his materials for his work.
From sculptures that make one sense the presence of the clay itself, or ceramic objects that incorporate plants and water, to installations that deliberately utilize a space, Uematsu’s work is upheld by a lucid attitude towards clay and fire, while exhibiting a diversity that does not fit into the traditional framework of ceramic art.
With playing in the mud in early childhood as the starting point, and after encountering clay again in his 20s when he was uncertain of what it means “to express” oneself, Uematsu’s work began with “not expressing, not making” and “examining the qualities of clay” instead. Although he was sometimes discussed in relation to the Mono-ha group and Earthworks early in his career, Uematsu himself always tried to be rooted in things seen and felt with his own body. This attitude, which on the other hand challenged the established notions of how to handle the material of clay, its production process, the way it is presented, or what ceramic art ought to be, gave rise to his unique way of expression that envelops the unwavering appearance of clay in stillness and emotion, without becoming confined by the existing genres of ceramic art and sculpture. The wind, light, colors, and sounds of everyday life, and the breath of life that dwells within them. He leaves these to the clay then uses fire to hold onto the forms found in the dialogue between the clay and his own hands and eyes. The works in which the artist himself seems to have wholly integrated with the world surrounding him through clay and fire makes one feel even the flow of time and the depth of space that cannot be quantified by a human’s physical senses, and when these things stand before us, we sense the wonder and nostalgia of coming in contact with something fundamental.
In the 1980s, Uematsu participated in exhibitions such as ’85 Hinuma Clay Landscape (1985)1 and Clay–Image and Form 1981-1985 (1986)2, and since garnering attention in both contemporary art and contemporary ceramics, he has continued to exhibit works at various museums and galleries. In 2016, the meticulously display of the artist’s diverse expression across around 40 years at his solo exhibition The Sky that the Rabbits Saw at the Kyoto City University of Arts Gallery @KCUA again illustrated their meaningfulness and significance. As Uematsu’s domestic and international acclaim continues to rise, with a solo show of his work was held in 2018 at Frieze New York, the world’s top international art fair, and a solo exhibition at The Museum of Ceramic Art, Hyogo scheduled for December 2020 to February 2021, this will be his first captivating solo exhibition at our gallery.
1: ’85 Hinuma Clay Landscape, 1985, Hinuma Miyanomaeso, Ibaraki. Numerous contemporary artists such as members of the Mono-ha group were exhibited.
2: Clay–Image and Form 1981-1985, 1986, Seibu Hall, Shiga/ Yurakucho Art Forum, Tokyo. Many leading artists of contemporary ceramics like Yo Akiyama and Ryoji Koie were exhibited.
An impressive early series of works Karuta (1983-86), consisting of minimal slabs with vividly gradating shades of color, shows the phases of wavering and balance between clay, fire, and the carefully contained will of the maker, and garnered attention for putting forward a new possibility for ceramic expression when it was first shown. This exhibition features ceramic panels from 1986, the final year of the same series. Candy in the Sky, a large-scale installation that scatters countless ceramic pieces across a 5m high gallery wall likened to a sky, tries to take the present overlapping of the self and nature, life and expression that has seen the passage of time, and directly project it onto the space while possessing a similar perspective and basing it on the same technique as Karuta. Centered around the above two pieces, this exhibition will be filled with around 10 more new works, such as Flowing that evokes the gestures of playing in the mud, and City, created by firing a mold full of clay powder.
OAP ARTCOURT 1F
1-8-5 Tenmabashi, Kita-ku
Photos by Takeru Koroda. Courtesy of ARTCOURT Gallery