For the final article of the Ceramic Art and Perception assignment for this semester, I’ve chosen an article by Nancy M. Servis featuring a moment in Jun Kaneko’s career in which he was exhibiting at the Rena Bransten Gallery in San Fransisco and had also designed set, costumes and props for a production of Mozart’s Magic Flute for the San Fransisco Opera that was to run concurrent with the show.
The Gallery show features painting, drawing, sculpture and ceramics and points to one of the most remarkable things about Kaneko as an artist, his ability to pursue a wide range of media and still hold together a cohesive vision for his work and produce quality in each media. It is this relentless searching and experimentation that equips him for the challenges of designing for the opera.
The curatorial challenge of staging a show to compliment an opera would be a daunting task indeed if it were not for the consistency of aesthetic in Kaneko’s work. All the various media are united through streaming color and pattern, while the art objects are further unified by surface treatment and mark making. His work is also distinguished by his commitment to the space between works, which he calls ma.
This multidimensional way of working is exciting to see. the potential of the large Dango pieces grows exponentially when the forms are used to costume a character on a stage and the theater calls back to the gallery as those same large forms take on the presence of actors on a stage. This ability to think in the round is the new requirement for artists. Simply making objects is rarely enough, as our culture is too fragmented focus on one thing in one place. Kaneko proves an artist can be everywhere and still deliver a solid, compelling body of work.