There is the aura of a gentle reverie about the current modestly-scaled show of work by Akio Takamori at the Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis (April 10 – May 16, 2015). The works cover a period of time beginning in 2010 and each is an exceptional example of its series. It is as though the artist has paused to look back contentedly at recent years.
As one examines each piece one is struck by Takamori’s remarkable economy, by how little modeling and painting gives so much information. When we showed his first figures at our gallery in New York in the 1980’s, even though the schoolchildren’s uniforms were mere cursory dabs of grey and black, a Japanese visitor could find enough information to accurately name the village they came from.
One sees this in the radiant blue sleeper where one can enjoy the woman’s voluptuary, discern her age and weight, the cut of her dress and the chiaroscuro, the fall of light and shade on the folds in the fabric. Then look at the actual form sans color and see how subtle it is how it relies upon the painting to given it dimension and detail. Reading the close-ups of the sculptures’ faces in this post allows you to enjoy the same qualities. Form and painting are equally minimal.
My favorite is the Boy with Blue Shoes, so large but so diminished in so many ways. He wears boxing gloves but his arms are bound so he can’t fight and his manhood on is on display but against the bulk of the body it seems minute, almost humiliatingly so when in fact its probably normal for a young boy. It’s a difficult work filled with an unnamed anguish.
Takamori grew up in Kyushu, Japan. A seminal and beloved figure working in the international ceramic arts for more than thirty years, Takamori continues to explore themes of cultural identity by engaging the history of Eastern and Western aesthetics. Bold form and color defines his body of work, which is highly expressive of human emotion, sensuality and fearless eroticism.
Takamori received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1976 and his MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University in 1978. Takamori has exhibited his work throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, and his work is represented in public collections around the world, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Los Angels County Museum of Art, Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Ariana Museum in Geneva, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including three National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists
Fellowship Grants (1986, 1988, 1992), the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant (2006), and the USA Ford Fellowship (2011). He has made his home and studio in Seattle, Washington, where he is also professor of art at the
University of Washington.
Garth Clark is the Chief Editor of CFile.
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