Art Exhibition: Keiko Masumoto “Kitsch Kōgei” – ICN Gallery London
ICN gallery proudly presents Kitsch Kōgei by artist Keiko Masumoto from 05 – 31 March 2012.
For a long time in Japanese applied arts, the ideas towards “art” and “craft” have been kept separate. However there are some artists who break the mold, and ICN Gallery is pleased to present one of them, Keiko Masumoto.
Using high ceramic craftsmanship, her works include everyday Japanese items such as decorative plates, vases, and tea ceremony instruments. But she breaks the relationship between utilitarian and decorative objects by combining these items and traditional motifs with dynamic shapes, creating a humorous take on Japanese traditions and culture. A new generation artist seeking to escape outdated conventions, Masumoto erases the lines between craft and art by showcasing the beauty of useful things.
Keiko Masumoto (b. 1982; Hyogo, Japan)
After completing both undergraduate and graduate ceramic programs at Kyoto City University in 2007, Masumoto was an instructor at ceramic studio Fumosha in Kyoto for three years. From 2010 she has been an artist-in-residence at the University of Arts (Philadelphia, USA).
There have been many developments in contemporary Japanese pottery. Young artists have emerged within the last ten years who go against convention and have created works that are moving, shed the fetters of tradition, and are full of expression. These works have some serious punch.
From this generation of artists Keiko Masumoto explores the boundary between art and craft creating utilitarian pieces that are for decoration. These pieces, while considering the traditions of Japanese art, are plates with 3D blooms and vases curled in the arms of an octopus. Styled as kitsch, sometimes the pieces are funny, and other times surprisingly frightening. However, the artist places these works within “the full context of the world’s many values and rules. These are to decorate, to use.”
If we look at the past, there is a similar controversy surrounding Bernard Leach’s adamance concerning strict traditional practice and rejection of the mechanization of ceramics, summed up in the phrase “To Leach or not to Leach”. Another is Oribe () design and ceramics which were so cutting edge at the time they were considered a joke. This was complete heresy. Now they are seen as the pinnacle of tradition. I wouldn’t be surprised if Masumoto’s pieces were viewed that way in about 100 years.
However, even for artists who move against tradition, it is vital to possess perfect technique. If not coupled with technical skill, the expression of the piece will be imperfect. In the case of Masumoto’s works, even though the pieces seem to have been made randomly, the style of modeling and white color have been used from ancient times. This technique combined with her aesthetic sense creates a big impact that can also be quite delicate. Despite being a young artist she has gained experience in an unprecedented amount of time; who knows where her career will take her. This sense of risk and the hidden perfection of her works makes her an artist to watch.
Hisami Omori – ICN curator
About ICN gallery:
Connecting the creative world from Asia. ICN gallery is contemporary art gallery based in London that actively seeks to showcase and share with the UK public upcoming & young contemporary artists from Japan and other Asian countries.