Takashi Murakami Curates Japanese Ceramics at Blum & Poe

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Although Takashi Murakami is the Japanese contemporary art world’s most prominent figure, the artist is in fact a cultural omnivore who also harbors a great respect and enthusiasm for Japan’s more traditional forms of art and craft.

Murakami has long championed contemporary Japanese ceramics in his native country, organizing various events such as the ceramics, antiquities, and art fair “Gallery’s Eye” at Tokyo’s Kaikai Kiki Gallery, and showing the work of young potters through his small network of Zingaro galleries in the Nakano Broadway shopping mall.


Now, Murakami turns his curatorial talents stateside in an effort to introduce Los Angeles audiences to this underappreciated genre.

Showcasing modern approaches to the basic principles of glazing, firing, and coloring, “Kazunori Hamana, Yuji Ueda, and Otani Workshop,” which opens at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles on September 11, is also a revealing look at a section of Japan’s creative output that is often overlooked in favor of the more urban, pop culture-infused flavor of its better known contemporary artists.

All three artists have chosen to live and work in remote rural surroundings close to nature, often combining their ceramic practice with agricultural pursuits. Hamana, who lives along the Pacific coast in Chiba prefecture to the east of Tokyo, creates stark, stripped-down urns, bowls, plates, and other vessels with graceful contours and limpid, white glazes that evoke the idyllic marine environment. The local area is also known for its fresh sardines, which Hamana has spun into a side business producing pungent bottles of fermented bagna cauda sauce.

In contrast to Hamana’s rather freewheeling lifestyle, both Yuji Ueda and Otani Workshop have chosen to locate their atelier in Shigaraki, a historical center of Japanese ceramic production located in Shiga prefecture, close to Kyoto, whose kiln belongs to one of Japan’s “six old kilns.” Drawing primarily on the warm, ochre-colored sandy clay from the local area, including the bed of Lake Biwa, Shiragaki ware is known for its oatmeal, greyish, and reddish-brown tints, as well as its durability.

“Kazunori Hamana, Yuji Ueda, and Otani Workshop” runs at Blum & Poe Los Angeles from September 11 through October 24, 2015.

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