photo: SAIKI Taku

ZONE II

ArtistAKIYAMA Yo
Year1991
Material/ Techniquecarbon-impregnated earthenware, steel
Size/ DurationH97×W158×D102cm
Copyright Notice© AKIYAMA Yo
Year of acquisition/ donation2006
DescriptionBorn in Yamaguchi, Japan in 1953. Lives and works in Kyoto.

Since establishing a strikingly original manner of ceramic expression by inducing cracks in ‘kokuto’ (carbon-impregnated earthenware), Akiyama Yo has employed ‘kokuto’ and high-temperature firing in expressing the geological forces that shape the land. He has thus pioneered new formal expression in clay and won international acclaim. Working in ‘kokuto,’ Akiyama has produced “Peneplain,” a series of works created with clay slabs resembling cracked and scorched earth. In developing this series, Akiyama gradually moved from the exterior surface of the work to the completion of its interior and brought the work to consummation in the form of a sphere. While continually varying his firing techniques and expressive style, Akiyama always engages the clay in a pure dialogue, seeking to illicit from it expression of the varying character of the land.

Applying the flame of a gas burner to a clay sphere, cylinder, or cone, Akiyama induces cracks on its surface, working systematically so as to give them a fixed rhythm, and assembles the fragments thus formed in a clay body. Then, after painstakingly polishing its surface to produce a gloss, he fires the piece in a kiln. The profound black produced when the carbon in smoke impregnates the clay surface during oxidation in the kiln is the distinctive feature of ‘kokuto.’ In "ZONE II", he has fused a cone and half-sphere in such a way that they support each other and maintain a balance. The work moves us to ponder gravity, oscillation, rhythm, the formation of exterior/interior and front/back, and the locus of territory. While embodying one natural conclusion of Akiyama’s ‘kokuto’ work, "ZONE II" also suggests the key concepts Akiyama would thereafter explore to greater depth and develop more dynamically in such series as “Geological Age,” “Oscillation,” “Border・System,” and “Meta-Void.”

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