[November 2 2020] : Magazine
photography by CHIKASHI SUZUKI
text by JEFF RIAN
all artwork by TAKURO KUWATA
all clothes by NOIR KEI NINOMIYA
from traditional craft to contemporary art: the bright, orgasmic, provocative sculptures of japanese artist takuro kuwata are captured here with the dark romance of noir kei ninomiya’s new collection.
Takuro Kuwata is a resident of Toki City, in the mountainous Gifu Prefecture, which is rich in clay, making it one of the largest areas for the production of ceramics in Japan. Having studied ceramics, he mastered traditional crafts, beginning in product design, one example being his signature cups with bands of three colors. He wanted to create contemporary objects and to use colors that reflected contemporary life, so he radicalized teacup design, moving from simple abstraction into asymmetrical forms more like molded clay than perfectly spun cups. Some appeared to be drenched in silver and gold, or in colors that reflected car culture or plastics. The cups became bright, orgiastic solids — more forms than a medium of containment, as if the objects were a mutant life, which startled even more as they began to grow in size and proportion. He began to create his own tools, using not only traditional wood or bamboo, but plastics as well — a material he associates with contemporary life. Objects were shaped like exotic flora or fish, or like a round SpongeBob SquarePants, with carapaces like SpongeBob’s friends, Patrick, Eugene, and Gary. Cups became solid objects, stand-alone artworks, which rankled Japanese traditionalists. Some were stand-up phalluses with tops oozing another color onto their form. His experimental ceramics caught the eyes of a younger generation, and soon Kuwata was showing at the Tomio Koyama Gallery, which also showed Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara, leading to exhibitions of his work in galleries in the West.
Firing clay produces cracks and a fragmented surface, resulting in nubby, budlike protrusions, which he glazes in different but eminently blazing colors. He arrived at all this through trial and error, creating teacups that appear to be melded from two different ones, one atop another, one inside another, one form’s color emerging like buds within another, a cracked surface covering another one.
Japanese pottery, one of the country’s oldest kōgei or crafts, can be traced back to the Neolithic Jōmon era (10,500-300 BCE), making Japan one of the oldest producers...