Last chance to see Takuro Kuwata's 'From Tea Bowl'
Alison Jacques Gallery, London, UK, until 5 November 2016.
For his first solo exhibition in London, Japanese artist Takuro Kuwata has made brightly coloured ceramics, some toweringly huge, others ornamentally small, that reveal adventurous techniques and an exuberant vision.
Born in Hiroshima, the 35-year-old artist grew up in the shadow of the aftermath of the Second World War and the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima. His artworks are instilled with a joyful vision for post-war Japan and a cathartic way of approaching the issue of destruction and recent natural disasters, such as the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake.
Indeed, the sensuality of Kuwata's ceramics grows out of the destructive process of the Japanese technique ishi-haze, meaning stone explosion. Traditionally, this was used in tea ceramics when small stones would be left in the clay and would sometimes burst out on the surface, creating an irregular, spontaneous effect. Kuwata has experimented with this technique to make audacious, sculptural works.
Kuwata collects large amounts of volcanic stone in the mountainous landscape near where he lives in Toki City in Gifu. Gifi Prefecture is where both Mount Dodo and Mount Kinka are located. In his studio, he inserts the rocks into wet clay so that they are sticking out and will cause eruptions on the surface. Sometimes he inserts the rocks into raw clay and applies the colour afterwards; at other times, he inserts the rocks into coloured clay in order to achieve a “colour contamination”. Kuwata also employs a second Japanese technique, kairagi, which is used to create imperfections in the glaze caused by shrinking and cracking.
Kuwata's artistic process is therefore centred around him ceding some of his artistic control and accepting a degree of uncertainty. Will the fracturing of the surfaces and the slipping away of colour be to his liking?
The inevitability of trial and error produces unexpected results with every piece being, by the very nature of its creation, characterised by imperfections and irregularities. The pieces are imbued with a kind of idiosyncratic individuality which is nonetheless strongly assertive.