Keiichi Tanaka makes ceramic wall vases that are beautiful enough on their own, without flowers or plants to spruce it up. He says he is inspired by the old tools and handicrafts hanging on walls of old farmhouses. He wanted to make vases by hand that would look beautiful even without flowers and trees. He achieves the metallic look by applying a custom blended metal-infused glaze and firing the piece, then applying a black pigment and firing again. His pieces are actually quite affordable, the linear vase worth $310 and circular vase $280.
According to artnews.com, which was written in June of this year, and it documents some of the many “trends” that the contemporary ceramic art world has been experiencing during the current years.
Face jars and distorting the human face has been a fascinating area of experiment, and while some of these faces actually resemble faces, others are quite distinguishable, and the moods on the pieces are clearly identified. Some of the more misshapen faces are meant to serve as a remembrance to an ugly past that is easily hidden or forgotten
“Work that Body”
The human body has been given special attention in these pieces and contemporary artists try to push the human form to a more transcendental form than the norm. These artists manipulate, strain, and stretch the human body to transform them into dynamic shapes.
Artists want to portray something so elemental and so whimsical into something nightmarish but with a surreal look to them. These artists try to find the dark side in fairytales, and it is a trend that you will often see in ceramicists today.
Spin Ceramics is a Chinese company founded by Jeremy Kuo and his now deceased US based artistic director Gary Wang. Spin is known for a wide variety of ceramic pieces from chopsticks that range from $11 to beautiful vases that sell for over $3,000. The appeal of Spin ceramics is that they are made with traditional, handmade techniques from Jingdezhen, which is the capital of Chinese porcelain since the Ming Dynasty. My favorite pieces would have to the be the vases with the faces because although they are so simple, something about their simplicity gives it a unique flair that I would not have been able to think of otherwise. Outside of Shanghai, eight young designers conceive sketches for what they want and then in Jingdezhen, master craftsmen oversee the making of the work from the shaping to the clay firing.
Matthias Merkel Hess is opening a show called “Hereafter” in New York, and he makes ceramic copies of mostly household objects. The interesting concept of the show’s name, however, represents the tradition of leaving behind possessions and treasures in a deceased’s tomb along with the body. The things left in tombs for ceremonial or ritual use are mostly made of precious metals and ceramics, so he was inspired to make his own version of that. He copies an existing design, and destroys the items that he copies to make plaster molds. He enjoys seeing people’s reactions when he puts his creations into a gallery and people wonder why the artist spray painted trash cans. He also makes sure to use an interesting glaze because the pieces themselves are so standard.
We don’t have this tradition of burying people with stuff anymore, but in a weird way, each artist is making their own version of that. These are things that, if taken care of and not smashed to pieces, will outlast me.
Shohei Harada is a Japanese ceramic artist who has been working with clay for over 15 years, right after he graduated from college. In the first few years, he used Machiko clay, so in that effect, the ceramic pieces that he made were dubbed “Machiko ware.” However, he is known to use his own special blend of clay. He mixes red with white and adds in black clay from the Ibaraki prefecture. He says that black clay is finer than red and white, so it helps him to add small, tiny details to his pieces. However, the pieces that most caught my eye are these ceramic pieces that he dubs “robots” that are meant to be incense burners. The whole point of these are that when incense is put in the middle and smoke burns out of the ceramic piece, it will look like a broken robot. Though he creates similar models, he does not use a mold, and all work that he creates is handmade and the finer details are all put on by himself.
I visited Japan for a national choir competition while I attended international school in South Korea. While in Japan, I was incredibly inspired by first, the tea ceremony that my choir was able to sit through and experience, and the beautiful sakura blossoms in Okinawa. Therefore, for my second project, I decided to do a rendition of some of the main instruments vital to the tea ceremony, and to imprint every piece with a splattering of sakura blossoms for the full effect. I always found the sakura blossom to be extremely representational of Japan’s culture, and I believe that the minimalistic appeal of the flowers will bring forth the shape of the tea cups. Traditional Japanese tea ware is very standard, but due to its imperfection and simplicity, it gives an air of importance and modesty.