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Touching Stone Gallery   Santa Fe, USA


Hiromi Okumura
Space in Between
July 1 - August 3, 2005
Hiromi Okumura   奥村博美
Since the 1950s, Kyoto has emerged as a center for innovative ceramic artists in Japan, producing such legendary ceramists as Kazuo Yagi, Suzuki Osamu among many others. Their bold exploration propels contemporary Japanese ceramics beyond its traditional confines and continues to influence ceramic artists today. In 2005, Touching Stone Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico launches a Contemporary Japanese Ceramic Masterworks Series to introduce outstanding Japanese artists who are extending the "Kyoto School" tradition of pushing creative boundaries with clay.

Hiromi Okumura first gained attention in Japan with his bold minimalist sculptural vessel forms. His work have been exhibited world-wide as part of a travelling exhibition entitled "Japanese Pottery: The rising Generation from Traditional Japanese Kilns". The current show includes Okumura's signature sculptural pieces decorated with paddled patterns, and his recent work described as "folded forms with wrinkles".

Rather than seeking innovation for its own sake, Okumura works with a clear vision. A recurrent theme in his work seems to take cues from living forms. Two large pieces in this show entitled simply "No.13" and "No.14" appear at once prehistoric and futuristic, their paddled patterns add a timeless quality to their statuesque forms. Equally enthralling are the various "folded forms with wrinkles". These fluid dynamic pieces defy characterization by conventional terms. What appear at first glance as amorphous shapes may be viewed as the artist's exploration of spatial relationship between interior and exterior of vessel forms. Hidden among the myriad folds and wrinkles are functional vessels, vases, or incense burners. It is hard to discern where the wrinkles end and the vessels begin, as inner surfaces of vessels morph seamlessly like an Escher's puzzle into outer surfaces. Many of the pieces have a pale finish like bleached bones, further blurring the boundaries between the inner and outer spaces. This body of work intrigues like a Taoist enigma, asking when a vessel ceases to be a vessel as it opens itself up.

The resemblance of Okumura's work to bleached bones may be more than incidental. Okumura intends his forms to be delicate but strong, voluptuous without being heavy. Like a lithe skeleton supporting a body, he builds large forms from slabs of clay no thicker than a few millimeters, wrinkling the slabs at critical points to add strength. The pieces take on an organic appearance so devoid of artificial intentions that they look like end results from eons of evolution.

Born in 1953 in Kyoto, Japan, Okumura received his art training in the Department of Ceramic at Kyoto City University of Arts. He launched his independent career in ceramic after earning his Master degree in 1978. In 1996, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor at Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto. Since 1982, Okumura has exhibited his work all over Japan, and has received many awards, including the Grand Prize in the Kyoto Art & Craft Exhibition in 1990, followed by the Award of Excellence in the same exhibition in 1992. Since 1998, his work was exhibited in many countries as part of the traveling exhibition "Japanese Pottery: The Rising Generation from Traditional Japanese Kilns" sponsored by the Japan Foundation.

Click on images to view selected pieces

Inquiry/order:, see Inquiry/Order

SpaceInBetween_13BW.jpg (73184 bytes)SpaceInBetween_13CW.jpg (69939 bytes)SpaceInBetween_13AW.jpg (73504 bytes)
Space in Between #13
 Ceramic vase form  16"H x 1 5" x 14" (3 views)

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Space in Between #1
Ceramic vase form  5.5"H x 12" x 7.5" (2 views)

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Space in Between #2
Ceramic vase form  9.5"H x 14" x 3.5" (2 views)

SpaceInBetween_6AW.jpg (45931 bytes)
Space in Between #3
Ceramic hanging vase  10.5"H x 11.5" x 3.5"

SpaceInBetween_4BW.jpg (34189 bytes)SpaceInBetween_4AW.jpg (31945 bytes)
Space in Between #4
Ceramic incense burner  4"H x 5.5" x 4" (2 views)

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Space in Between #5
Ceramic vase form  6"H x 7" x 4" (2 views)

SpaceInBetween_3AW.jpg (40237 bytes)
Space in Between #6
 Ceramic hanging vase  11.5"H x 13" x 2.5"

SpaceInBetween_7AW.jpg (34332 bytes)SpaceInBetween_7BW.jpg (32830 bytes)
Space in Between #7
Ceramic incense burner  3.5"H x 6" x 5" (2 views)

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Space in Between #8
Ceramic incense burner  4.5"H x 6" x 3.5" (2 views)

SpaceInBetween_9BW.jpg (27774 bytes)SpaceInBetween_9AW.jpg (27482 bytes)
Space in Between #9
Ceramic platter  3.5"H x 21" x 7.5" (2 views)

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Space in Between #10
 Ceramic platter  5"H x 17" x 7.5"  (2 views)

SpaceInBetween_11_12AW.jpg (27892 bytes)
Space in Between #11,  #12
Ceramic forms  # 11 (5.5"H x 5" x 4")  #12 (5.5"H x 5" x 5")

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Space in Between #21
 Ceramic vase form  7"H x 10" x 3.5" (2 views)

SpaceInBetween_17AW.jpg (38596 bytes)SpaceInBetween_17BW.jpg (39334 bytes)
Space in Between #17
 Ceramic vase form  10"H x 14" x 8" (2 views)
SpaceInBetween_18AW.jpg (49810 bytes)SpaceInBetween_18BW.jpg (45014 bytes)
Space in Between #18
 Ceramic vase form  11.5"H x 13" x 7" (2 views)

SpaceInBetween_19AW.jpg (29164 bytes)SpaceInBetween_19BW.jpg (36225 bytes)
Space in Between #19
 Ceramic vase form  10"H x 16" x 4.5" (2 views)

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Space in Between #20
 Ceramic vase form  8.5"H x 11" x 6" (2 views)

SpaceInBetween_15AW.jpg (78139 bytes)SpaceInBetween_15CW.jpg (49069 bytes)
Space in Between #15
Ceramic incense burner  6.5"H x 4" x 5" (2 views)

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 Space in Between #16
 Ceramic incense burner  6.5"H x 6.5" x 6" (2 views)

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Space in Between #14
 Ceramic form  14"H x 19" x 7" (3 views)


Selected Solo Exhibitions


1982, 89, 91, 93 - Gallery Marronnier, Kyoto

 1982 - Gallery Mi-no-bi, Kyoto

1984 - Ichi-no-Tsubo, Okayama

1985 - Gallery Hana, Tokyo

1985, 87, 95 - Gallery Kurimoto, Nagoya

1985 - Ru-Baruku, Osaka

1986, 96, 99 - Utsuwa, Kobe

1986, 88, 92, 94, 98, 2001 - Gallery Genkai, Tokyo

1987, 90 - Kuroda Toen, Tokyo

1989 - Shimonoseki Daimaru, Yamaguchi

1989, 96 - Life Gallery Ten, Fukuoka

1989, 91, 93, 96, 99 - Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi, Tokyo

1990, 92, 94, 97, 99, 2002, 2004 - Gallery Utsuwa Kan, Kyoto

1993 - Art Space O, Yokohama

1994 - Gallery Hana-se, Chiba

1995 - Craft A, Kanazawa

1995 - El Spice, Toyama

1995, 97, 2002 - Nanba Takashimaya, Osaka

1995 - Gallery Nishikawa, Kyoto

1995, 98 - Gallery Kirara, Yottkaichi

1995 - Nishi Oji Kintetsu, Nara

1995 - Bacha Mama, Kanagawa

1998 - Utsuwa Ikkyaku, Kyoto

2000, 02 - Bijutsu Salon Gakudo, Takarazuka  


Selected Awards/Honors

 Numerous awards including:

 1990, 92 - Grand Prize & Excellence Award, Kyoto Art & Craft Exhibition

1991 - Memorial Award, Yakishime Exhibition

1994 - City Mayor's Award, Kameoka Bijutsu Exhibition

1998 - Invited lecturer for the Shiga Prefecture Ceramic Park Workshop  


Selected Publication

2000 - Tatakimon Kyusu (Message from Clay), Kyoto Zokei Gei jutsu University Press  

Hiromi Okumura at his 'Space in Between' opening