June 1 to 3, 2017 at Sara Japanese Pottery
Artist reception: 6pm to 8pm, June 1, 2017
Artist: Akihiro Nikaido
Born 1977 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.
After studying ceramics at a technical school, he moved in 2002 to Mashiko, a town famous for its ceramic art.
His studio was severely damaged by the earthquake disaster of March 11, 2011, and as a result, he relocated to the countryside of Chiba prefecture in 2015.
Nikaido has many faces to him, much like the surfaces of his pottery in this solo exhibition.
Nikaido is a serious ceramic artist who works diligently.
He engages in solo exhibitions nearly 10 times a year and daringly challenges to show his works abroad. Without looking away from the problems of society, he touches clay and throws on the potter’s wheel on a daily basis, as one means of sweeping away fear. He is conscious of his obligation to continue the history that began when the first humans touched clay.
Nikaido is an artist as well.
He asks himself, “Can UTSUWA can become art?” (The Japanese word UTSUWA means not only container or dish, but also evokes the generosity or talent of a person or object)
The answer he arrived at is that “UTSUWA can be the threshold.”
The threshold that fulfills both the interior and the exterior will bring about all possibilities to each person. Nikaido believes that the vessel is a device that creates these thresholds in the lives of people.
Nikaido respects history and culture and creates tea bowls.
If asked whether he makes tea, he replies, “That is not my work.” That's right.
His work is to make tea bowls.
In a tea ceremony, one will witness a person making tea, a person arranging flowers, a person painting a scroll, and the change of seasons and effects of weather. When all elements are combined, the performance is completed. He carries a part of this ritual, and he sometimes enjoys it, too. He embodies a deep admiration of tea culture.
In 2009, Nikaido began a project called “TO-ISM,” gathering together young potters and holding exhibitions of their work in combination with his own ceramics. After the earthquake disaster, he engaged in activities to send UTSUWA to stricken areas, titled “USTUWA NO CHIKARA (power of UTSUWA)".
He is investigating the ability of UTSUWA to relate with both potters and society.
In Japan, the environment of the ceramic arts is complicated by the lengthy histories of tea culture, traditional crafts, folk arts (MINGEI), contemporary art, life industrial arts (SEIKATSU KOUGEI), and daily dishes. In such a situation, he searches for a way for the potter and ceramist to be independent.
As stated above, Nikaido has many faces.
But the basis of his works is consistent — that they originate from “the belief in the power of the clay (earth).”
From the ground he stands on, he touches the clay with his hands and creates things will then remain in our hands. He entrusts the clay and flame with his impression and consciousness.
All the works and activities are his expression.
He makes “UTSUWA” that are functional, but contemplates, if his UTSUWA can become a chance to change our lifestyles and lives, then his works are the art.
- Nana Yamasaki