Future Forms

If stories energize objects, and if clay is a key material in creating Japanese objects, then the clay medium has become more powerful than ever before. On the occasion of Asia Week New York, I visited Dai Ichi Arts Gallery and its current exhibition, Future Forms: Avant-Garde Sculpture in Japanese Ceramics. Curated by the Gallery’s Director, Beatrice Chang, this group show consists of contemporary sculptures, mostly by female artists. Each is handcrafted, each is inventive, each tells the personal story of the craftspeople who created it. The stories bring these objects to life, empowering them with dimensions beyond the aesthetic.

In the show we meet Hiruma Kazuyo (b. 1947), whose training as a graphic designer is clearly demonstrated in her technique. She layers thin sheets of clay horizontally or vertically for months before glazing and firing the sculptures. Matsuda Yuriko (b. 1943) works in the tradition of American Pop Art, creating whimsical works and representing local culture and daily themes in colorful richness. She uses porcelain and enamel glaze. I loved the way she presents Mount Fuji as a vibrant, childish representation of nature. Ayumi Shigematsu (b. 1958) is part of the vanguard generation of highly influential post-war female artists in Japan whose practices are inspired by concepts of female sexuality. Her sculptural forms are influenced by 1970s glamor aesthetics, and her complex forms are created by hand. I found the work of Shingu Sayaka (b. 1979) stunning, and conceptually unique. In her flower series, she recreated cut flowers in black, white, and gray, which gives the colorful flowers a sense of abstraction and calm that is so central to the Japanese experience.

The presentation by Chang brought us into the reality of Japanese clay art, which has its moment. It is the story of artists who have been trained in the tradition of pottery, but who are on an eternal journey to reinvent the medium, and by that, becoming players in the world of contemoprary art. 

KATO MAMI 加藤真美 (b. 1963-)
PLANET 惑星, 2022
Stoneware
H11.4” x W14.1” x D13.3”
H29 x W36 x D34 cm
SHIGEMATSU AYUMI 重松あゆみ JAPANESE, B. 1958
JOMON REMNANT, 2020
Stoneware
H12.4″ x W11.2″ x D10.4″
H31.5×W28.5×D26.5cm
MIWA Ryosaku 三輪龍作 (1940- )
The Scripture of HIMIKO 卑弥呼の書, 1990’s
H5.6″ x W14″ x D7.3″; H14.2 x W35.5 x D18.5 cm
Stoneware with Gold Luster
With Signed Wood Box
HAYASHI YASUO 林康夫 JAPANESE, B. 1928
MEMORY OF A HOUSE #1, 2003
Stoneware
H9.1″ x W17″ x D6″
H23.1 x W43.1 xD15.2cm
MIWA RYOSAKU 三輪龍作 JAPANESE, B. 1940
HAGI WHITE GLAZED SCULPTURE “LOVE”
Stoneware
H13.7″ x W15″ x D7″
H35 x W38.2 x D18cm
Signed Ryo 龍 at the bottom
With Signed Wood Box
Matsuda Yuriko 松田百合子 (b. 1943)
Mt.Fuji 不二さん, 2022
Enamel Glazed Porcelain
H16.9” x W16.5” x D6.2”; H43x W42 x D16cm
Tashima Etsuko 田嶋悦子 (b. 1959)
Cornucopia 09-Y12, 2009
H8.6” x W16.5” x D14.1”; H22 x W42 x D36cm
Stoneware & Glass
Sakurai Yasuko 櫻井靖子 (b. 1969)
Oval Vertical 3, 2012
H9” x D8.8”x W14.5”; H22.8 x D22.4 x W37.2cm
Porcelain
HIRUMA KAZUYO 昼馬和代 JAPANESE, B. 1947
AFLOJAR ゆるぐ, 2017
Stoneware
H18.8″ x W22.4″ x D15.7″
H48 x W57 x D40cm

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