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Hoshino Enthralls - JKK

Hoshino – an internationally recognised figure, worked with the avant-garde, non-functional Japanese ceramic movement ‘Sodeisha’, in the initial years of his career

Hoshino Enthralls - JKK

At the 'Breaking Ground' exhibition in Jaipur at the JKK, it is Hoshino Satoru's single wall installation that stands head and shoulders above everything else. It transcends traditional ceramic arts in Japan to embrace nature and the earth. Hoshino is an internationally recognized figure and a mentor in this field. In the initial years of his career, he worked with the avant-garde, non-functional Japanese ceramic movement 'Sodeisha'. From the ancient tradition re-established by its Founder, Yagi Kazuo, he assumed the mantle of smoke-infused sculptural work (kokuto) that was not compromised by colour or surface patterning, embodying fluidity and plasticity.

'Sodeisha' was an extremely influential movement that promoted an avant-garde approach favouring sculptural ceramics that were completely non-traditional and often bear poetic titles. Following on the heels of the war, with scant resources available, artists drew together to establish their own exhibition systems that gave them both freedom and a vehicle for artistic dialogue. These artists drew their name, 'Sôdeisha' – literally, "Crawling Through the Mud Association" – derived from a Chinese ceramic glazing term, to express their complete absorption with their medium and its inherent limitations.

Their initial manifesto read:

"The birds of dawn taking a flight out of the forest of falsehood now discover their reflections only in the spring of truth. We are united not to provide 'a warm bed of dreams' but to come to terms with our existence in broad daylight."

Hoshino represents this manifesto in his signature of creativity that embraces fire and form and clay. After a landslide destroyed his studio in 1986, he experienced fresh revelations about the physicality and force of his material and was inspired to work in a less controlled manner with it. He roughly shapes his sculptures by prodding and pushing clay with his fingers, and says of this process, "the fingermark is pushed to the clay unconsciously… [and so] the various elements that are in the body are put in the clay… there is no will to make a specific form." The installation at JKK comprises of hundreds of finger marks, imprinted in the clay via a fierce, pulsating motion assembled and reassembled without the orientation established by a potter's wheel or the traditional vessel form dictated by function. "My approach to clay changed completely after I experienced the natural disaster of a landslide in 1986. Until then, clay had been a material with which to embody the ideas and images already in my mind. Since then, however, the clay has become not simply the material from which a work is derived, but something that lies before me as a force of nature, an existence that overwhelms trivial intentions. The clay has a life and energy of its own; by excluding small thoughts, it forces me into a symbiotic relation with it," he says in an interview.

Hoshino's installation explores the visceral and nonhierarchical relationship between the body of the artist and matter. Hoshino has spoken of his artistic practice as an act of "baptism by… a wave of muddy water": the body of the sculptor, rather than shaping and sublimating clay, is subsumed by the base materiality of mud and dirt. Hoshino creates a spiral with carbon-impregnated earthenware clay. It 's punched and pummelled by his fingers and becomes a work of unmitigated expression, extraordinary in resonance and the power of the human hand.

The beauty of the spiral on the wall and the pinched urn at JKK in Jaipur virtually questions all the conventions of ceramic materials, form, decoration, and function, and also addresses broader issues of presentation, social hierarchy, and the political role of art.

Uma Nair

Uma Nair

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