November 13, 2020, Tokyo—Blum & Poe is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Kazunori Hamana and ooido syoujou, Osaka-born artists, making work inspired by the delicate complexity of nature. The show brings together Hamana's ceramic works, accompanied by a botanical presentation by floral designers Tsubaki, and ooido's paintings and drawings, showcasing artistic processes that are durational and enduring.
Inspired by traditional Japanese tsubo, functional clay jars dating back to prehistoric times, Kazunori Hamana makes large and delicate vessels out of natural clay sourced from Shiga prefecture in Japan. Shaped with improvisation and experimentation, this earthenware provides a contemporary look at one of Japan's oldest traditions, while also preserving its legacy. The artist incorporates a slow and gradual process, informed by the rhythm of his daily life in the rural fishing village of Chiba and from its surrounding nature. After the pots are fired, he places them outside of his studio not far from the Pacific coast, a process that imbues the vessels with iodized air bearing the traces of saltwater. As these objects continue to dry under the radiant sun, enveloped in bamboo trees, or washed by the sea, nature plays a pivotal role in their transformation. These pottery methods are shaped by Hamana's lifestyle, his work in remote surroundings, and his interest in organic rice-farming and fishing. Finished with the artist's mineral glazes, they capture an aesthetic of grace and humility. Each piece's surface is painted with geometric and organic forms, stripes, symbols and language. Inspired by a range of contemporary references spanning the work of Cy Twombly and Isamu Noguchi, as well as the centuries-old philosophy of wabi-sabi, the result is a body of work rife with rich and fertile intensity.
For ooido syoujou, his trip to the magical forests of Yakushima, a Japanese subtropical island in Kagoshima Prefecture, was one of the pivotal experiences that sparked his artistic practice. Inspired by encounters with such natural phenomena as mushrooms that glow in the dark, he dedicated himself to art making. The inhabitants of the forest echo throughout ooido's meticulous acrylic paintings and ball-point pen drawings depicted as fragments of trees, animals, and fungi. The artist engages in a labor-heavy process to produce these works, sometimes taking a few years to complete one single work. Filled with finely painted accumulations of pure color—reds, blues, and greens—these works resemble mandalas with their geometric patterns and circular forms. Mirroring the shape of the moon or the sun, ooido provides an interscalar view of the world, in which everything becomes connected, building invisible threads from delicate minds and bodies to the infinite cosmos. Meditative in nature, these diagram-like forms condense the time and energy of artistic labor and yield compositions that vibrate on the canvas.
Kazunori Hamana (b. Osaka, Japan, 1969) lives and works in Chiba, Japan. He was educated at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA. He had solo exhibitions at institutions, including Curator's Cube, Tokyo, Japan (2020, 2018); and Blue Projects at Blue Mountain School, London, UK (2019). His work was part of the group exhibition at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA, curated by Takashi Murakami, which later traveled to Blum & Poe, New York, NY (2015). He also participated in group shows at Towada Art Center, Towada, Japan (2017); and Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan (2016).
ooido syoujou (b. Osaka, Japan, 1984) lives and works in Nara, Japan. He had solo exhibitions at House in Koishikawa, Tokyo, Japan (2018); Essential Store, Osaka, Japan (2015); FOIL Gallery, Kyoto, Japan (2014). His work has also been included in group exhibitions, including HATTEN, Ntiti Bld in Osaka, Japan (2019, 2017), Zenkyo-An x FOIL, hosted by Kenninji Zenkyoan Temple in Kyoto, Japan (2013, 2012).
Press release courtesy Blum & Poe.