Towards Transparency


Towards Transparency

Yuka Irisawa
Excerpt from INAX Gallery 2: Art News, 2007

A large white stand massed with white porcelain bowls and sake cups, for all the world like a bird's eye view of a serenely snowy landscape, exhibited at the INAX Galleria Ceramica in 2003; the bell curve of arc described by the tip of a long, slender spring board projecting from the wall at the INAX Tile Museum — these objects produced a sense of tension and exultation, seeming almost on the verge of lifting off into mid-air.

Fukumoto Fuku's work forms a core around which the very space is imbued with a transparency that seems almost to throb.

I find myself hesitating to make the flat statement that Fukumoto Fuku is a ceramicist. This hesitation had its originating moment in the exhibition at INAX Gallery-2. Since her undergraduate and graduate studies in ceramics at Art School, Fukumoto has proceeded to exhibit a series of vessel-shaped pieces, shifting the ground of her work from its basis in ceramics far in the direction of "transparent objects".

Her debut was a striking one. In 2001, she won the grand prix in the Asahi Contemporary Craft Exhibition. Her work was powerful and vivid, far from what one would expect of an artist still at the beginning of her career. Her collection of pieces seemed formed in the crucible of a white-hot trance from which the artist had emerged to discover the work manifest and complete. It had about it the sensation, the muscular power of innateness.

To point to another characteristic of Fukumoto's work, each vessel feels uniquely shaped, sometimes presenting a human-like silhouette. There are pieces where the body of the vessel is pot-shaped while the top forms a sake cup shape, and each part, seemingly shaped separately, still overall conjures up a human image. A faint wave at the rim, the vestiges of faint or heavy indigo, press in upon reality with the rhythm of the breath.

Fukumoto Fuku works today at the temperature where white heat hits crystallizing point, yet paradoxically it seems she had no interest in craft or art until high school. She chose ceramics as if urged by deep natural forces. She felt, as she puts it, that it was "Japanese". Yet, despite this choice, she disliked the weight, the dense opacity and earthiness of ceramics. Out of this vast unconscious chaotic state, in which she sensed both the heavy opacity of ceramics and its Japaneseness, was born her core impulse, to express herself through the transparencies of porcelain.

In this present exhibition, she says, porcelain arcs are suspended in space. They make one think of the waxing and waning of the moon. Fukumoto has always given her pieces titles representing the shifting nature of natural phenomena, with constant tendency toward wax and wane, shifting shadow, transparency and iciness — titles such as "thin ice", "cloud wisp ", "moonlight" and "cloud".

Picturing the trajectory of Fukumoto's work in my imagination thus, I am haunted by a jealous fear that at some point the allure of transparency may well draw her beyond the bounds of the genre of ceramics. Fukumoto Fuku's urgings to delineate the outer boundaries of whiteness and transparency, and the limitless transfigurations of the arc, create in the gallery space in October a world of serene moons, drifting clouds, and shifting transparencies of light.

Translated by Meredith McKinney


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