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Indepth Arts News:

"Jun Kaneko"
2008-08-30 until 2008-11-09
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Montgomery, AL, USA

Jun Kaneko must be regarded as one of the most exciting clay artists working in the world today.  Quite a statement; yet, when one considers the sheer volume of his production, the unprecedented scale of his work, the magnitude of his technical achievements, and, of course, the unbelievable elegance of his ceramic shapes, patterns, and glazings, few other artists come to mind. He works not only with ceramic sculptures, but also with a variety of other media, such as painting, drawing, metal, glass, and installation.  It’s no wonder he has developed an international reputation.

Kaneko has refined his approach to large scale clay sculpture, adding tile installations of almost limitless scale, and his most significant creation, the “Dango.”  The Dango shape, which in Japanese refers to a rounded form can be tall or squat and oval, round, or triangular.  Most of them are of unprecedented size and weight for contemporary ceramic sculpture, with small pieces weighing hundreds of pounds and large pieces weighing several tons! Along with his Dangos, Kaneko explored the shape of a human head as an art form, thus creating a greater challenge than simply working with naturalistic or basic geometric shapes.  The closed eyes and enigmatic expressions on these 6- to10-foot tall monuments hint at inner tranquility when standing alone or a psychological tension when placed in a pair.

After his large slabs, tiles, and Dangos are shaped, dried, and bisque fired, they are glazed with a wide range of pure colors—black, white, gray, bright or dark blue, golden yellow, red, pink, and metallic bronze—and covered with a pattern of dots, drips, stripes, squares, splashes, or lines that compliment the shape of the piece.  Some patterns are distinctly two-dimensional, while others give a sense of floating in a shallow space around the object.

Since his early years in Japan, drawing has routinely been the basis for his two- and three-dimensional designs.  On various textures of paper, Kaneko can endlessly experiment with inks and paints, which stay within his chosen color palette, applied with a variety of tools.  The procedure is rapid and the process is immediate, compared to the ceramic medium.  In Kaneko’s work there is a fine line between drawing and painting and between drawing or painting on a two-dimensional surface and a three-dimensional object.  Unlike ceramics, painting is not concerned with the issue of scale.  Instead, most works rely on a layering of lines in series, in patterns, in repeated chords, in push and pull.  Many paintings are repeated in complementary designs that become more complex and dazzling when grouped together.

The Jun Kaneko exhibition is part of a ten-city national tour over a two-and-a-half year period containing approximately 39 ceramic artworks, paintings, and works on paper from the collection of the Kaneko Studio.  The exhibition was curated by Jun Kaneko and was developed and managed by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services, an exhibition tour development company in Kansas City, Missouri. It is sponsored locally by Corinna and Barry Wilson and Adam and Dawn Schloss.

Join the Museum of Fine Arts for the opening of Jun Kaneko’s exhibition on Thursday, September 4, 2008 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Afterwards, join Kaneko in the Wilson Auditorium as he discusses his work at 7 p.m.

The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday Noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free and donations are welcome. For more information, call the MMFA at 334.240.4333 or visit the website at www.mmfa.org.

The MMFA, a department of the City of Montgomery, is supported by funds from the City and County of Montgomery and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association.  Programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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