2bis Avenue Matignon
75008 Paris, France
Perrotin Matignon is pleased to present GEIBI KAKUSHIN (“Aesthetic Innovation on Japanese Ceramic Art”), the first exhibition of ceramic art curated by Takashi Murakami to take place outside japan. The exhibition features works by Kaikai Kiki artists Chiho Aoshima, Shin Murata, Otani Workshop, Yuji Ueda, as well as Aso Kojima and Takuro Kuwata with whom Murakami has maintained a close relationship over the years.
The exhibition title is inspired by an essay of the same title written by Kitaoji Rosanjin (1883-1956). Known as a seminal multi-talented artist, Rosanjin was a ceramist, lacquer artist, calligrapher, painter, and the inventor of Japanese gastronomy “bi-shoku” or the aesthetic of eating. Written in 1948, “GEIBI KAKUSHIN” manifests Rosanjin’s pursuit of originality and freedom in artistic expressions and the importance of reevaluating tradition in the field of ceramics to reinvent national cultural identity in the postwar Japanese society.
Murakami’s enthusiasm towards ceramic art has led him to amass over 30,000 works in his private collection, which were shown as a part of “Takashi Murakami’s Superflat Collection”, the first large-scale public showing of his collection at Yokohama Museum in 2016, followed by “Takashi Murakami’s Superflat Consideration on Contemporary Ceramics” at Towada Art Center in 2017 with further focus on his relationship with pottery.
This exhibition is an important turning point for Murakami and his relationship with ceramics. Over the years, ceramics has slowly become a significant mean of expression and elaboration of new key concepts both in his art and in his interpretation of our current times.
Featured in the exhibition are 6 Japanese artists who use ceramic as a medium to fuse tradition and innovation in their own ways.
Over the past fifteen years, I have been committed to a number of contemporary Japanese ceramic artists working in the vein of seikatsu kōgei, or lifestyle crafts, organizing their exhibitions, financially supporting their production, and collecting their work. Around 2005, when I started taking an interest in and acquiring ceramics, the world of seikatsu kōgei was at its most exciting, and the artists and their dealers seemed unconstrained and in good spirits. Seikatsu kōgei, in a nutshell, is a movement that attempts to reexamine the beauty of objects of everyday use and to reinterpret this beauty through handcrafting. Many of its proponents also call for environmental sustainability, with a hippieish sensibility.
For the exhibition, Murakami has taken a quintessential blue-and-white ceramic motif of fish swimming in a pond full of large lotus leaves and flowers with aquatic ferns and algae from the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), the era in which blue and white porcelain ware was developed, and has developed it into large blue and white paintings. Here, three-dimensional forms are projected, enlarged, and flattened – a gesture that expends the artist’s Superflat experiences albeit in a different context. This particular series of paintings demonstrates a strong interplay between two and three dimensions; the Yuan dynasty flower pot has been transposed upon a round surface, the shape of the pot with the swimming fish on its surface surrounded by a decorated rim that recalls Yuan dynasty plates with white reserved cartouches and auspicious symbols.
Shin Murata, born in Kyoto in 1970, graduated from Kyoto Seika University’s Ceramics Department, currently lives on the outskirts of Kyoto with his family. He established his independent studio following his studies and has been delving in practicing the abundant culture of ceramic. In 2013, he went on a journey to Korea, Muan prefecture, to rediscover the roots of Japanese pottery, where he built a klin to produce works using the highly regarded local soil. Same as Murakami, Murata is heavily influenced by Rosanjin’s implementation in art and lifestyle, especially the Japanese traditional haute cuisine, Kaiseiki, which he thoughtfully designs the tablewares to be presented sophisticatedly with seasonal ingredients. In addition, Murata is also known for his blue and white sometsuke style, an ancient technique of decorating the ceramics with underglaze blue on white background.
Chiho Aoshima, born in 1974 in Tokyo, Aoshima started her art practice with Adobe Illustrator before expanding into traditional mediums namely drawing, watercolor and, more recently, ceramics. Deeply influenced by Japanese religious and cultural beliefs, she interprets in a contemporary context to express her views on the future, humankind’s coexistence with nature, and the realities of our rapidly changing world. She started producing ceramic works at Shin Murata’s studio in 2016, whose creative process she finds more relaxing and offers a greater freedom of expression.
Otani Workshop, born in Shiga in 1980, graduated from Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, and lives on Awaji Island, a location that is inhabited by various gods and goddesses according to Japanese folk tales, Otani worked solitarily in a refurbished, abandoned ceramic tilery. In this fascinating space, which includes a monumental kiln, the artist continues to conceive sculptures that marry Japanese pop sensibility with highly traditional ceramic techniques. His works are populated by immemorial figures in which subtlety wrestles with strangeness.
Yuji Ueda, born in Shiga in 1975, a prefecture that is known for its significant history of pottery and tea. Without exception, Ueda was born to a prestigious multigenerational tea farmers in the region, where he imbued with antiques and tea wares since his childhood. Ueda’s works present the harmonization of coincidence and inevitability that manifest in the kiln, shaping the abstract nature of the ceramic appearance, and a nod to Japanese aesthetics of wabisabi, the appreciation of imperfections and transience. The connection between Ueda and Murakami is bridged by Otani Workshop, who is a close friend and kindred spirit in ceramic to Ueda.
Aso Kojima, born in Nagano in 1978. Living a completely self-sustainable lifestyle with his family in the countryside, Kojima is a self-taught ceramic artist who infuses the rhythms and routine of ceramic making in his daily life, which gives him a vitality unparalleled by others in his field. His skepticism towards capitalism and contemporary society emerged in his youth, and it is that rebellion that motivated the agrarian lifestyle he practiced. Instead of identifying himself as a ceramicist, Kojima prefers the word hyakusho, a term that indicates “farmer” in Japanese, and “master of hundred disciplines” in Chinese.
Takuro Kuwata, born in Hiroshima in 1981, graduated from Kyoto Saga University of Arts in 2001, and Tajimi City Pottery Design and Technical Center in 2007. Kuwata is best known for his contemporary take on the traditional Japanese Tea Bowl, rendering his ceramics in highly vivid colours, and the utilisation of extreme approach on traditional Japanese ceramic techniques such as kairagi and ishihaze, to a point where the works become sculptural rather than functional. This productive tension between the past and present has become the foundation of his work, while reflecting the reality of the westernised culture of Japan today.