Masaomi Yasunaga: 石拾いからの発見 / discoveries from picking up stones

April 8 - May 20, 2023



Artillery, April 13, 2023




Nonaka-Hill is pleased to present recent sculptures by Japanese artist Masaomi Yasunaga in his third exhibition with the gallery. 石拾いからの発見 / discoveries from picking up stones, includes nearly seventy recent works and introduces the Mosaic Vessels series wherein compositions of handmade tiles are embedded into the artist’s characteristic glaze-bodied forms, a gesture which further aligns the artworks with a fantasy of Antiquity. The exhibition opens on April 8th and continues through May 20, 2023.

Masaomi Yasunaga (b. 1982; Osaka, Japan; lives and works in Iga, Japan) has become one of the most pivotal artists working in the medium of ceramics today. To achieve his unprecedented use of glaze, rather than clay, as the primary material for sculptures, Yasunaga invents techniques to completely invert the customary materials of the ceramic discipline, reaching beyond the assumed limits of the discipline.

Yasunaga’s process has an alchemical and metaphysical dimension: he views fire as a filter and the kiln as a time machine; the fire filters out his ego’s intentions while the kiln advances (or restores) his sculptures to their primal, immanent state. This lends them a paradoxically archaic and futuristic quality, an estrangement from how we perceive organic materials in relation to geologic time. In this way, Yasunaga sees his practice as a way to create psychic distance between us and the object; of using the appearances of ancient relics and artifacts to see into what he calls “the other side of the mountain,” that mysterious landscape we know exists, but cannot see externally. It is here that the object is perceived ambiguously, where we fill gaps in our understanding with our feelings and imagination.

Raised in a devout Catholic family in Japan, Yasunaga’s aesthetic lexicon was formed within the metaphors and rituals of the Mediterranean religion. His range of vessel types appear familiar, as if archeological or shipwrecked relics. These global vessel forms evoke the Japanese concept of Mono no aware, the embrace of a gentle melancholia about transience being a reality of life.

Yasunaga’s practice developed under tutelage of Satoru Hoshino (1945-), a second generation proponent of Sodeisha (Crawling through Mud Society), the experimental ceramics group founded in 1948 in Kyoto which sought to liberate ceramics from a utilitarian product mandate into the realm of artistic sculpture. With his radical innovations in non-functional, expressive ceramics, Yasunaga fulfills his pedagogical Sodeisha ethos, extending its influence into the 21st century towards a significant collective reconsideration of what ceramic sculpture has been throughout its history and what it can become.


Installation Views