31 Mar New Generation: expressionism from Tokyo
New generation: Hiroshi Kaneyasu and Junpei Hiraoka
The last edition of Collect, the London fair for modern craft and design, has just ended. Among the most interesting artists proposed by ESH Gallery was Hiraoka Junpei, a young Japanese artist who, together with Hiroshi Kaneyasu, represents the new generation of artists from Tokyo.
A new wave of expressionism is spreading from Japan to the West through exhibitions, events and art fairs that increasingly offer contemporary Japanese art.
Young talents who, between revisited tradition and research on the perception of colour, bring Oriental culture towards new expressive boundaries typical of the West.
We asked Hiraoka Junpei some questions to explain his history and the birth of his work. This is what he told us.
You look very young and your art seems to be both personal and innovative.
Where did you study and where did you develop your technique?
I’m 24 years old and I come from Tokyo. I study ceramics at Ishoken in Tajimi, famous city for its production of ceramics from where artist Kuwata Takuro graduated.
Before ceramics, I studied painting at Setsu Mode Seminar in Tokyo. It’s a fashion and painting school where Issey Miyake and Kawabuko Rei, founder of Comme des Garçons, graduated.
Can you explain us how did your experiences contribute to influence your personal style?
I was a good student until 8th grade, but for some reason, I ended up to enter the high school that had a lot of students who had a difficult family life, then I saw the dark side of Japanese society.
I was lucky, because my family life was okay, but many of my friends had serious problems. And many people were trapped in a negative cycle because of domestic violence, under age sex work, neglect, low self-respect.
Those memories were pulled from my heart like endless lines, then became forms.
While I was making these works, I felt terrible, because it’s difficult to remember my experiences in the high school. But, it was very important to me.
So in my work I tried to express my emotions: sadness, anger, helpless…
Your ceramic works reveal a gestural approach that renders the energy and movement of life in a visible way. They look like three-dimensional Jackson Pollock paintings, allowing a deep emotional impact. How do you combine tradition with a contemporary vision?
I think my pieces are a fusion of painting and ceramic.
When I studied painting, I learned to express emotion with colour, for example, red for anger, blue for sadness.
I wanted to use this skill with the basic material for ceramic, slip, instead of paint.
I started from the normal slip, but the slip would fall off, or be too runny, or crack, and didn’t stay on the body surface.
So, I developed an original slip recipe, mostly changed the amount of water, and discovered the slip thicker than honey worked. It can splatter and dribble with brush.
The dribble feels like crying. The thread around the outside is like a restraint or binding.
I am still developing this process. I want to experiment and improve the form.
From now, I want to improve my emotional expression in clay.