Akio Nukaga opening Sept. 12th 2009
Take a sneak peak at some of Akio’s work that will be in the show and available for sale. If you haven’t read the write up on the connection to Akio in our newsletter here it is:
YAKIMONO = FIRED OBJECT
by adam silverman & simone earnhardt
We’re thrilled to be welcoming Master Japanese Potter Akio Nukaga to Heath LA on Saturday, September 12 from 5-8pm for the opening of his first U.S. Tenji Sokubai (direct translation “exhibit and immediate sale”). We sat down with Adam Silverman, a very close friend of Akio’s and Director of Heath LA, and asked him a few questions about his relationship with the artist…
How did you learn of Akio and what drew you to his work?
While working in Mashiko, Japan in the spring of 2006, I came across a postcard with one of Akio’s pots on it. Intrigued, I asked my friend and handler Aya Muto to translate the card, which led us to a show of his work at Starnet, the best gallery in Mashiko. His pieces were staggeringly elegant, simple and beautiful. I felt an immediate connection to his work and went to great lengths to meet him in person.
Akio lives about a half hour outside of Mashiko in a wooded area filled with potters. He greeted us warmly and we connected over tea and biscuits with the help of Aya, and lots of smiles and bows. Akio and I were born in the same year and he has three sons to my three daughters. He is trained in a traditional manner, having served as an apprentice to a master potter for many years before establishing his own studio. His master threw 1,000 teacups a day — by the time Akio left, he was throwing 500 per day but we both agreed the reward was greater when making varied, one-of-a-kind, more expensive pieces.
During that time in Mashiko, I became acquainted with Koshi Baba, the visionary owner of Starnet. He invited Akio and me to hold a show together in the spring of 2007. I had the opportunity to visit with Akio several times before our show, which brought us quite close. By the time our opening at Starnet had come around, our work had evolved and we could see each of our influences on the other.
How has your work evolved since meeting in 2006?
When we met, Akio’s work was mostly about food and mine mostly decorative. Through the years, his work became more expressive, he moved into making flower vases as a functional type within which to explore more diverse forms. I began to embrace the challenges involved with making wares used for eating, something I had moved away from a while back.
What is Akio’s background and what style is he most known for in Japan?
I see his work as real country pottery (in the best possible meaning of the term) but with a very sophisticated and refined design aesthetic — quite a rare combination. He works in the 200 year-old tradition of Kasama ware, hand-making functional pieces with keen attention to the end user’s experience in mind. His pieces are so humane — they embody his free spirit, humility and incredibly kind soul. I use one of Akio’s teapots almost every morning — it truly enhances my experience of having tea and honestly starts my day in a nicer way.
What can we expect from his show?
Many rare and wonderful opportunities — this will be Akio’s very first trip to the US, his first time outside of Japan, in fact. He’s bringing with him approximately 100 one-of-a-kind specially-made pieces, all functional — including cups, plates, bowls, tea pots, serving bowls,platters and flower vases (prices range from $50 to $300). In addition to his show’s opening reception on September 12, Akio will give a public wheel throwing demonstration in the Heath studio on Sunday, September 13 at 2:00PM (admission is free) — yet another rare and exciting opportunity. I am delighted to introduce Akio and his work to my friends and the Heath community, as he is a really big deal in Japan and virtually unknown here in the United States. The show will remain up until all of his pieces are sold, which we anticipate happening quickly, based on the response he gets back home.