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Takahiro Kondo: Reflections

Barry Friedman Ltd.
515 West 26th Street, 212-239-8600
November 12, 2010 - January 22, 2011
Reception: Friday, November 12, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Barry Friedman Ltd. is pleased to present a groundbreaking new body of work from contemporary Japanese artist, Takahiro Kondo, on view November 12, 2010 – January 22, 2011. The exhibition will open with a reception for the artist on Friday, November 12 from 6:00-8:00 pm at Barry Friedman Ltd., 515 West 26th Street, NYC.

Takahiro Kondo was born into the refined world of traditional Kyoto blue-and-white porcelain. His grandfather, Yuzo Kondo (1902-1985) was named a Living National Treasure in 1977 for his work in sometsuke, or underglaze cobalt blue decoration. Despite his weighty heritage, Kondo did not begin working in ceramics until 1986. His early ceramics followed the more traditional ornamentation favored by his grandfather, but Kondo quickly established his own independent artistic identity, developing his gintekisai glaze technique and experimenting with new media, like metal and cast glass.

Kondo’s newest body of work, Reflections, is a series of 25 life casts of the artist’s head and face. The glazing, color palette, and design of each head is unique and serves to reference specific themes and concepts from the artist’s past works. Kondo has previously worked in ceramic slab construction making these life casts a major departure for him.

The nature of water and man’s relationship to it is a theme present throughout much of the artist’s career. His signature gintekisai glaze, or mist technique, is repeatedly used to represent this. The glaze provides a luminescent finish, and strong textural quality that mimics different aspects of water – mist, droplets, rivulets, fog – as well as the way water runs, drops, pools, and clings to a surface. Beyond simple representation however, Kondo’s work demonstrates an environmental concern for the human disruption of our natural water supply. Kondo states, “Looking forward, the 21st century is the age of water. Clean water is already a huge issue in many parts of the world, especially the developing world and lack of water has ramifications for food supply globally…How people treat the earth is of great concern [and it is this reason] I am taking these issues head on in my current work.”

The Reflections series presents two dichotomous examples. Heads glazed with gold and precious metals draw attention to mankind’s obsession with material goods and excess to which much of our environmental imbalance can be attributed. These stand in stark contrast to pit-fired clay heads, that have been left to organically crack, falter, and stain based on their natural tendencies. These contrasting heads act as a warning towards the effect this imbalance will have on the future of our environment.

This series is Kondo’s first use of self-portraiture, and by incorporating himself into the works they become deeply personal. The water-like glazes that have washed over his works in the past now wash over his head and face. This not only demonstrates continuity between his past and present works, but Kondo’s readiness to move beyond the decorative, and create conceptual work suggestive of his beliefs and concerns.

Running concurrently, from October 15 – November 7, 2010, will be a solo exhibition of Kondo’s new work at the Itami Museum in Japan. Following this exhibition, the works will travel to Tokyo for an invitation-only group show, hosted by the Ministry of Culture, at The National Art Center, Tokyo. In addition, Kondo’s work will be displayed as part of the exhibition, “Kondo Yutaka: the Transformation of a Kyoto Family” at Joan B. Mirviss Ltd., 39 East 78th Street, New York, NY from November 10 – December 17, 2010.

Takahiro Kondo has been exhibited at museums and galleries throughout the world, including The São Paulo Museum of Art, Brazil; National Museum of Scotland; and the Palace Museum, Beijing. Kondo’s work is represented in many private and public collections including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, England; Rhode Island School of Design; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota; Paramita Museum, Japan; and the Museum of Arts and Design, New York.

Kondo lives and works in Kyoto in what was his grandfather’s original studio in the hills of Yamashina.

Running concurrently in an adjacent gallery will be new ceramic sculptures by the Russian artist Sergei Isupov.
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