photo: SUEMASA Mareo

An Exploitation of Japanese Taste Series: Not Unsuspicious Fearless Demeanor

ArtistNAKAMURA Kimpei
Material/ Techniqueclay (pedestal: iron plate)
Size/ DurationH82×W82×D94cm (pedestal: H31×W183×D92cm)
Copyright Notice© NAKAMURA Kimpei
Year of acquisition/ donation2000
DescriptionBorn in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan in 1935. Lives and works in Tokyo.

Nakamura Kimpei, who throughout his career has explored the far reaches of ceramic expression in a developing critique of conventional value systems, identifies his fourth-grader experience of Japan’s WWII defeat as the origin of his critical mentality. Dropping out of Kanazawa College of Art in 1955, he studied the vessels and cooking of KITAOJI Rosanjin at Nakajima restaurant. Influenced by trends in American contemporary ceramic art during a 1960s sojourn in the United States, he subsequently turned that critical eye to his own circumstance as eldest son of tea bowl maker NAKAMURA Baizan, in 1988 declaring himself a ‘Tokyo ware’ potter, thus breaking away from the traditional association of ceramics with a particular locality. Championing the creation of ceramic art using the ‘neutral’ electric – and thus divorced from traditional values – kiln, and commercially-available potter’s clay, in 1993 he staged the solo show “Exploring the present with Tokyo ware meta-ceramics.”

Nakamura interprets and critiques as ‘Japanese taste’ traditional Japanese things he throws newly into relief in creative acts that challenge and reject the values surrounding traditional techniques and materials such as clay, glazes, kilns and functional beauty, values intimately associated with the local industries that sustain ceramic art. This museum is home to two pieces from Nakamura’s “An Exploitation of Japanese Taste” series, a leading example of the artist’s work. Bizarre objects in which various motifs – stones, tree branches, hose etc. – some molded to look realistic, some handformed and archaic in appearance, appear to have been tossed untidily onto a base resembling a lump of rock, are decorated in vivid red and gold, subtitles such as “Not Unsuspicious Fearless Demeanor” and “Closed Coquetry Played Already” adding to their provocative character. “An Exploitation of Japanese Taste” marks the point at which Nakamura began to refer to his ceramic art as ‘Tokyo ware,’ making it also the core of his art practice.