Shinya Tanoue’s work (1976) was born during his theology studies, from the discovery for the passion for ceramic and the desire to develop its plastic potential. In it we find a fresh and valid reference to the tradition of the Sodeisha movement born in 1948. After a short period of teaching at Kyoto Saga University he is now a full-time artist.
Tanoue tells us: “The important theme of my pieces is the shell – egg shells, shells of fruits or seashells because they are deeply related to the normal circles of life. The cobalt blue in the pieces represent the ocean, which is the origin of life on Earth. The wombs are considered to be the shell of human beings, so if I could express in my pieces the memories of leaving the wombs (leaving forever the protective and comfortable feeling), it would be wonderful.”
“I have been working on the concept of ‘shell’ since 2007. I have two kinds of shell in my mind. One is actual shell that protects a life form inside such as egg shell or seashell. The shells that exist in nature are formed with layers of secretion from inside.
My works also are shaped from inside with layers of mud and glaze. The other shell exists in ourselves, but we cannot see it: it is the experience of birth and loss of protection from the womb.”
His works are therefore a perfect and plastic representation of this concept.
Moreover: ”I often use blue glaze because this reminds me of water that is a source of life. Water also was a major factor that life forms evolved in such a miraculous way.”
From technical point of view his thinned walled sturdy shell forms are shaped with coil techniques using three kinds of clay, covered two slips, fired twice. After he meticulously adds his minute lines to define rhythm and texture to each work. Finally he works with a blue-glazed interior and some razor-cut outer blue embellishments.
The artist continues: “I am obsessed with clay that has so many characteristics and these are the major ones. Firstly, I can shape them freely. Secondly, I can sharpen them just like wood. Thirdly, I can pour into a mold just like casting iron when it is mud. What I am fascinated the most with clay is its plasticity that enable me to shape clay directly from inside of lump of clay with hands. We can’t find materials like clay and I try to maximize the characteristics of clay.
I do not express actual life form in my works but all my concepts are strongly related to life. Therefore, I believe all of you will be able to feel sprits or compelling emotions in my works.”
Among the numerous prizes won, in 2017 the artist was awarded one of the jury prizes of the prestigious MINO International Ceramics Competition.