Fujiwara: Thinking Outside of the Pot

Fujiwara: Thinking Outside of the Pot

In the northeast of Columbus, the Dublin Arts Council provides a sanctuary for art and artists to flourish. One show in particular stands out over the summer; an eponymous exhibition by Japanese ceramic installation and muralist, Ikuzo Fujiwara subtitled, Environmental Ceramic Art.

Fujiwara has worked in a variety of outlets in ceramic media throughout the course of his career including small-scale sculptural installations, ceramic murals, and other various forms of sculpture within the medium. According to Japanese architect Yokoyama Hiroaki, “Fujiwara is at the forefront of architectural art in Japan. More than 500 ceramic walls and walkways from his studio grace public facilities, buildings, restaurants.”

In an artist talk he gave at the Dublin Arts Council, Fujiwara explained that ceramic art usually evokes the image of pottery, or other earthenware jugs and containment vessels. This is not true for his work, however. He labels his practice as “Environmental Ceramic Art,” which can take the form of murals and monuments alike. This idea is perhaps best represented by the outdoor installation works present at the gallery. (Figure 1) This particular set is labeled “Chiteki” or “Drops.” They are meant to serve as a seat to the weary, just as much as they serve as a unique sculptural installation in their own right.

Figure 1: Ikuzo Fujiwara,  Chiteki.  Captured by Eric Shell.

Figure 1: Ikuzo Fujiwara, Chiteki. Captured by Eric Shell.

Another example of his small-scale installation work are the Jaki sculptures inside the Dublin Arts Council’s gallery. (Figure 2) These take inspiration from the Japanese spirit Amanojaku or “heavenly evil spirit.” While in traditional depictions of these creatures they are malicious and spiteful, Fujiwara chose a different interpretation for his sculptures. He explained in his artist talk that when creating the Jaki, he wanted to create a respite from the worries of the world. His style when constructing these little demons was more lighthearted than in Japanese tradition, and to the artist, they represent more of a playful curiosity than a terrifying demon.

Figure 2: Ikuzo Fujiwara. Courtesy of  Dublin Art's Council .

Figure 2: Ikuzo Fujiwara. Courtesy of Dublin Art's Council.

Fujiwara also presents us with many small-scale models of his larger works. These pieces are joined with photographs of the large-scale ceramic murals and monoliths.  (Figure 3) The installation depicted in figure 3 is the Shibusawa City Place “Sky Bridge.” This and all other large-scale murals are created by Fujiwara’s studio, the small scale models are mostly focused towards the overall design and splitting that enterprise into little parts that his studio can assemble on site. The end result are often enormous with many of them spanning many stories; and the collection of his work at the DAC allows for an amazing glimpse behind the scenes into the creation of some of these monoliths.

Figure 3: Ikuzo Fujiwara,  Sky Bridge.  Courtesy of  The Shibusawa Warehouse Co.

Figure 3: Ikuzo Fujiwara, Sky Bridge. Courtesy of The Shibusawa Warehouse Co.

But unlike the grandiosity of some of his most famous work that is on display, there are some hidden gems within this exhibition. One such example is “Tou-tou” or “Ceramic Lamps.” (Figure 4) These pieces highlight a fairly recent interest that Fujiwara is pursuing: recycled glass art. Since 2000 Fujiwara has been playing with the idea of reusing glass in his sculptures. The juxtaposition of the glass shards and the smooth clay presents a fascinating texture, unlike any other piece within the gallery.

Fujiwara also presents us with many small-scale models of his larger works. These pieces are joined with photographs of the large-scale ceramic murals and monoliths.  (Figure 3) The installation depicted in figure 3 is the Shibusawa City Place “Sky Bridge.” This and all other large-scale murals are created by Fujiwara’s studio, the small scale models are mostly focused towards the overall design and splitting that enterprise into little parts that his studio can assemble on site. The end result are often enormous with many of them spanning many stories; and the collection of his work at the DAC allows for an amazing glimpse behind the scenes into the creation of some of these monoliths.

Figure 4: Ikuzo Fujiwara,  Tou-tou.  Captured by Eric Shell.

Figure 4: Ikuzo Fujiwara, Tou-tou. Captured by Eric Shell.

Another key idea that this piece represents is Fujiwara’s focus on lighting with his creations. In his own words describing his process, “In the case of creating lighting with ceramics, light cannot be emitted unless a hole is opened, but then the light source directly hits the eyes. It is essential to think about how to hide the light source in lighting creations.” In this case, he uses the glass shards to divert the original lighting. Many of them are purposely placed in the corners of the composition, as a further attempt to conceal the light hidden within the ceramic box.

Fujiwara’s Environmental Ceramic Art is a must see for anyone in the Columbus area. Its unique collection of ceramic works detail an inside look at the artist and his studio practice. Fujiwara’s ceramics will be on view at the Dublin Arts Council until June 9th.

 

Written by Eric Shell.

 
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