15 April 2018

Exploding, Melting. Ceramics Of Takuro Kuwata

Two ceramic tea bowls.  The yellow bowl embellished with gold seems to whirl in psychedelic space while the ice cream pink bowl could be melting like a limp Salvador Dali watch.  They were created by Takuro Kuwata (b. 1981 in Hiroshima) a Japanese artist who has been described as a punk ceramicist.  Other ceramicists see in him a mysterious potter who has perfected techniques unknown to most.  Drawing on the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi Kuwata often emphasizes instability in a medium with a long-standing tradition.  Kuwata himself studied with masters of classical Japanese ceramics at Kyoto Saga University of Arts.

The Japanese term for the tea ceremony, cha no yu, meaning "hot water for tea," points to the lack of handles on the bowl; the drinker is meant to cup the tea bowl in the hands to feel the warmth of the tea with.  The tea ceremony became popular in Japan during the 15th century, two centuries before the development of glazed embellishment. A custom celebrating refinement was bound to reconsider its humble earthenware implements when a new decorative technology appeared. 
Ceramics are among the oldest objects recovered by archaeologists.   A direct transformation of earth into new objects by human hands, ceramics is a combination of utilitarian design and fine art, a topic for endless debate.  In most countries potters have a hard time earning a living but not in Japan where ceramics has been a vibrant art for millennia.
Peter Voulkos, an American ceramicist who began working in the 1950s, was influenced by abstract expressionist painting at that time but it took awhile for the fine art world to notice. A connection is   also apparent in Takuro Kuwata’s work. The fine art word doesn’t know much about kiln firing or how the amount of grog in a clay or a glaze affects the outcome; if asked, most would say a grog is a hot alcoholic drink.

1. Takuro Kuwara - Tea Bowl, Salon 94, NYC.
2. Takuro Kuwara - Tea Bowl, 2017, porcelain, glaze, pigment, steel, Salon 94, NYC.

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