Beyond Vessel

This exhibition is now closed


Beyond Vessel is a large exhibition of contemporary ceramics form Japan. It features the work of three Japanese ceramic artists, Takumi Sato, Akira Yamada, and Takahiro Kondo, who all have international reputation as ceramicists.

The word 'vessel' has many facets to its meaning. In this context however it is a common element and form to each of the works, whether it be a vessel used as an everyday utensil such as the teapot, or to pieces of highly valued fine art. The objective of this exhibition is the desire not to see vessels and sculpture go their separate ways, but to see a ceramic with broadened possibilities for creative expression.

Takahiro Kondo (b.1958) represents the third generation of a family of artists working in the blue-and–white ware tradition. To Kondo, the jars and vessels he decorates with cobalt represent the same kind of space that canvas does to a painter; in addition, he sees the mouth of a vessel as a window to the sky, the entrance to another space. Expertly and effectively exploiting the possibilities of cobalt decoration, he merges these two spaces in his own creative world.

To Akira Yamada (b.1959), a vessel is a border. He says that jars and vessels are spaces which naturally widen the intentions contained in them. As with architecturally structured areas of human life such as houses or nests, 'vessels' are not simply function objects but symbolic signals. Therefore, jars and vessels for him are conceptual take-off points and could be created from materials other than clay.

Takumi Sato's (b.1962) approach to 'vessels' is to carve them out of lumps of clay. Rather than working with the plasticity of clay, his work is concerned with the fundamental volume of the clay. While most work in clay is an additive process, Sato's work is subtractive, paring away clay with the formation of the 'vessel' as the goal.

The three artists featured in this exhibition possess a clear and unique approach to the vessel in their work. Each in turn explore and interpret this simplest of forms essential to everyday life.

('Beyond Vessel', Bulletin, No.88, February/March 1994, p.1)