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Touching Stone Gallery   Santa Fe, USA


Hiromi Okumura


June 1 - 27, 2007



Hiromi Okumura

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. Hiromi Okumura belongs to a rising generation of artists who are extending the "Kyoto School" tradition by pushing creative boundaries with clay.

Regarded as one of the most original artists unconstrained by traditions, Hiromi Okumura takes cues from organic forms. Rather than seeking innovation for its own sake, Okumura starts with a clear vision, then develops techniques to bring his vision to fruition. After gaining recognition in Japan for his bold sculptural forms, his work was selected for the traveling exhibition Japanese Pottery: The rising Generation from Traditional Japanese Kilns. The current is a mini-retrospective featuring notable examples of no less than five distinct styles pioneered by the artist over the past 11 years.

Six of the showpieces (Nos.1 - 6) dating back to 1996 are vase forms and incense burners with a white glaze. These appear to be strongly influenced by animal forms, some seem to be imaginary life-forms clad in ancient samurai armors. Four teapots (Nos. 7 - 10, dated 1998) in the show are decorated with tataki-mon finish (paddled patterns). These teapots are finished with a brown-and-black or brown-and-silver glaze. Five of the showpieces (Nos. 11 - 15) are distinctive Aka-e (red painted) pieces, which Okumura created in 2001. These are minimalist sculptures with clean elegant lines, a radical departure from his earlier work. 2004 saw a return to more organic forms, this time in shu-heki (folded wrinkles) stoneware resembling animal bones. Two of the showpieces (Nos. 13, 14) in the current show pay homage to this original style.

Most recently, Okumura puts his creative energy to white porcelain. Unlike stoneware, porcelain typically gives a hard, cold and sterile appearance. Okumura wants to make his porcelain work soft and inviting. He builds each piece by hands, softening the forms and lines, and intentionally leaving imprints of his hand movements on the porcelain surfaces. The results are organic forms that seem as pliable and inviting as cloth bundles, a remarkable achievement with this medium. The seven porcelain pieces in this show (Nos.18-24, dated 2007) epitomize the artistic vision and technical mastery of this extraordinary artist.

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, where he currently serves as a Professor of Ceramics. 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 has been exhibited in many countries as part of the traveling exhibition Japanese Pottery: The Rising Generation from Traditional Japanese Kilns, sponsored by the Japan Foundation. In 2005, Okumura launched his American debut in Touching Stone Gallery.


Click on images to view selected pieces

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Okumura_Form1a.jpg (67410 bytes)Okumura_Form1d.jpg (70022 bytes)

Metaphor #1  (1996)

Ceramic form w/ white glaze  15.5"h x 19.5"w x 10.5"d  (2 views)





Okumura_Vase2b.jpg (26773 bytes)Okumura_Vase2a.jpg (26291 bytes)

Metaphor #2  (1996)

Ceramic vase w/ white glaze  14.5"h x 3.5"w x 3"d  (2 views)




Okumura_Burner3a.jpg (30441 bytes)Okumura_Burner3b.jpg (29850 bytes)

Metaphor #3  (1996)

Ceramic incense burner w/ white glaze  9.5"h x 5"w x 5"d  (2 views)






Okumura_Burner4a.jpg (47754 bytes)Okumura_Burner4b.jpg (42443 bytes)

Metaphor #4  (1996)

Ceramic incense burner w/ white glaze  5.5"h x 6"w x 4"d  (2 views)




Okumura_Burner5a.jpg (36955 bytes)Okumura_Burner5b.jpg (37486 bytes)

Metaphor #5  (1996)

Ceramic incense burner w/ white glaze  10.5"h x 5"w x 5.5"d  (2 views)




Okumura_Burner6b.jpg (31569 bytes)Okumura_Burner6a.jpg (34068 bytes)

Metaphor #6  (1996)

Ceramic incense burner w/ white glaze  10"h x 4"w x 4"d  (2 views)






Okumura_Teapot7b.jpg (53698 bytes)Okumura_Teapot7a.jpg (58942 bytes)

Metaphor #7  (1998)

Tataki-mon teapot  6"h x 8"w x 3.5"d  (2 views)





Okumura_Teapot8b.jpg (55275 bytes)Okumura_Teapot8a.jpg (52415 bytes)

Metaphor #8  (1998)

Tataki-mon teapot   8"h x 7.5"w x 3"d  (2 views)




Okumura_Teapot9b.jpg (55441 bytes)Okumura_Teapot9a.jpg (57431 bytes)

Metaphor #9  (1998)

Tataki-mon teapot   8.5"h x 8"w x 3.5"d  (2 views)




Okumura_Teapot10b.jpg (64409 bytes)Okumura_Teapot10a.jpg (65771 bytes)

Metaphor #10  (1998)

Tataki-mon teapot   6.5"h x 8"w x 3.5"d  (2 views)




Okumura_Aka-eForm11b.jpg (56474 bytes)Okumura_Aka-eForm11a.jpg (72638 bytes)

Metaphor #11  (2001)

Aka-e ceramic form    4.5"h x 13"w x 7"d  (2 views)




Okumura_Aka-e-Form12a.jpg (89083 bytes)Okumura_Aka-e-Form12b.jpg (76867 bytes)\

Metaphor #12  (2001)

Aka-e ceramic form    6.5"h x 13"w x 5.5"d  (2 views)





Okumura_Aka-e-Form13a.jpg (69650 bytes)Okumura_Aka-e-Form13b.jpg (64709 bytes)

Metaphor #13  (2001)

Aka-e ceramic form    6.5"h x 9.5"w x 6"d  (2 views)





Okumura_Aka-e-Form14a.jpg (43501 bytes)Okumura_Aka-e-Form14b.jpg (38277 bytes)Okumura_Aka-e-Form14c.jpg (44492 bytes)

Metaphor #14  (2001)

Aka-e ceramic form    16.5"h x 7"w x 7"d  (3 views)




Okumura_Aka-e-Form15c.jpg (48011 bytes)Okumura_Aka-e-Form15b.jpg (42118 bytes)Okumura_Aka-e-Form15a.jpg (45273 bytes)

Metaphor #15  (2001)

Aka-e ceramic form    15"h x 5"w x 7.5"d  (3 views)





Okumura_Basket_16a.jpg (64752 bytes)Okumura_Basket_16b.jpg (54096 bytes)

Metaphor #16  (2004)

Shu-heki stoneware   6.5"h x 15"w x 8.5"d  (2 views)





Okumura_Basket_17a.jpg (55134 bytes)Okumura_Basket_17b.jpg (66986 bytes)

Metaphor #17  (2004)

Shu-heki stoneware   7"h x 12"w x 8"d  (2 views)




Okumura_Vase_18e.jpg (61238 bytes)Okumura_Vase_18b.jpg (56757 bytes)Okumura_Vase_18a.jpg (49144 bytes)Okumura_Vase_18c.jpg (66413 bytes)

Metaphor #18  (2007)

Shu-heki white porcelain   14"h x 11"w x 12"d  (4 views)






Okumura_Vase_19b.jpg (48168 bytes)Okumura_Vase_19d.jpg (42051 bytes)Okumura_Vase_19c.jpg (48288 bytes)Okumura_Vase_19a.jpg (42227 bytes)

Metaphor #19  (2007)

Shu-heki white porcelain   9"h x 10.5"w x 9"d  (4 views)






Okumura_Vase_20b.jpg (45506 bytes)Okumura_Vase_20c.jpg (37316 bytes)Okumura_Vase_20d.jpg (41608 bytes)Okumura_Vase_20a.jpg (46782 bytes)

Metaphor #20  (2007)

Shu-heki white porcelain   10"h x 10"w x 9"d  (4 views)







Okumura_Vase_21d.jpg (50422 bytes)Okumura_Vase_21c.jpg (35578 bytes)Okumura_Vase_21b.jpg (36989 bytes)Okumura_Vase_21a.jpg (45314 bytes)

Metaphor #21  (2007)

Shu-heki white porcelain   9"h x 9"w x 9"d  (4 views)






Okumura_Teapot22a.jpg (27046 bytes)Okumura_Teapot22b.jpg (28833 bytes)

Metaphor #22  (2007)

White porcelain teapot   5"h x 6"w x 4"d  (2 views)





Okumura_Teapot23a.jpg (26131 bytes)Okumura_Teapot23b.jpg (25018 bytes)

Metaphor #23  (2007)

White porcelain teapot   6"h x 7"w x 4"d  (2 views)




Okumura_Teapot24a.jpg (26123 bytes)Okumura_Teapot24b.jpg (22808 bytes)

Metaphor #24  (2007)

White porcelain teapot   7"h x 6.5"w x 4"d  (2 views)



Selected Solo Exhibitions
1982, 89, 91, 93, 05 - Gallery Maronie, 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, 04 - Gallery Utsuwa Kan, Kyoto
1993 - Art Space O, Yokohama
1994 - Gallery Hana-se, Chiba
1995 - Craft A, Kanazawa
          El Spice, Toyama
          Gallery Nishikawa, Kyoto
          Nishi Oji Kintetsu, Nara
          Bacha Mama, Kanagawa
1995, 97, 2002 - Nanba Takashimaya, Osaka
1995, 98 - Gallery Kirara, Yottkaichi
1998 - Utsuwa Ikkyaku, Kyoto
2000, 02 - Bijutsu Salon Gakudo, Takarazuka
2001 - Gion Konishi, Kyoto
2002, 04 - Tosai, Tokyo
2005 - Touching Stone Gallery, Santa Fe
2007 - Takashimaya, Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto
           Touching Stone Gallery, Santa Fe

Major Awards & Honors
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 Publications
2000 - Tatakimon Kyusu (Message from Clay),
           Kyoto Zokei Gei jutsu University Press.

Hiromi Okumura at the opening of his exhibition
 in Touching Stone Gallery, Santa Fe