20 September – 13 October 2023
Reserve up to two artworks ahead of the exhibition opening to the public.
Priority after that will go to those attending the gallery on Wednesday 20 September between 10 – 10:30am.
Messums London celebrates its continuing relationship with ceramic artist Makoto Kagoshima in a new exhibition at Cork Street. Kagoshima will present his largest collection of new ceramic works, featuring bowls, plates and plaques, and a rare foray into three-dimensional sculpture drawing on themes of the harvest, a universal time of celebration and abundance. The works introduce new motifs in animals and plants, engaging with Kagoshima’s interest in the European aesthetic. This soft view of the harvest will celebrate the feelings of positivity, a gathering of people and good will that occurs around the world.
Kagoshima’s new works are shown alongside those of fellow master-makers, and friends of the artist, Hiromine Nakamura and Morito Toyonaga, respectively a porcelain figure sculptor and a wood-cut printmaker. All three artists share an aesthetic that bridges historic craft and contemporary imagery, featuring bold mark making, striking colour and a simple, charming graphic style that is reminiscent of the Japanese culture of Kawaii.
Working in ceramic, sculpture and on paper, all champion a different traditional making process of their respective crafts, each with its own significant history in Japanese aesthetic culture. Concerned with a generational loss of skill, the artists merge contemporary popular culture references and universal imagery to create an appealing worldliness.
For Kagoshima, influences can be varied and by chance, they may include the patterns in his grandmother’s and mother’s kimono collections, the architecture and sculpture of ancient Greece, the rustic crafts of Spain and Portugal and ancient Mayan, Incan or Aztec imagery, the Arts and Crafts movement in the United Kingdom, as well as Scandinavian design. But his imagery shares a particular kinship with simple and otherworldly illustrations of plants and creatures from the medieval Romanesque.
Kagoshima is inspired by the manifestations of religion that are so aesthetically rooted in the living world around us and the magical world of the dream space with their symbolic and story-telling qualities. His fascination for design is based on belief in the practical and philosophical skill of the craftsman and his tools. These sympathies are clear where drawn renderings from “Makoto’s World” are playful and cheering, whilst his dexterity in execution demonstrates a dedication to the historic techniques. Kagoshima’s ceramic technique is rooted in Japanese craft history, and one which to his own acknowledgment has been described as the basic techniques used by amateur makers. In maintaining and elevating these rudimentary skills of ceramic in Japan, Kagoshima upholds a sense of accessibility for admirers and future makers.
Makoto Kagoshima (b. 1967) is based in Kyushu, the southern island of Japan. He first encountered clay in his grandfather’s workshop and later trained as an artist studying ceramics at college. He encountered numerous influences in contemporary European design through collaboration and employment before dedicating his life to clay at the age of 35. He has exhibited internationally including Los Angeles and the UK. Kagoshima has diversified his practice through collaboration with numerous designers including textiles, wallpaper, production potteries, fashion, and mural painting.
Hiromine Nakamura (b.1986), a fourth-generation Japanese doll maker, born and raised in Fukuoka, Japan. He attended the Tokyo University of the Arts and Music in 2011 receiving an MA in Fine Art Sculpture. In 2013 he was selected for the 60th Japan Traditional Kogei Exhibition and received the Best New Artist Award. Since he has been selected for numerous national exhibitions and received prizes at many.
Hiromine Nakamura is a practitioner of the Japanese art of Ningyō who strives to bridge traditional practices with contemporary art. Figurative dolls hold an historical place in traditional Japanese craft that can be traced back to the Dogū figures of Jōmon cultures, some 10,000+ years ago. The art form reached its peak during the Edo period (1603-1868) and, since they were introduced to European and American cultures in the 19th century, they have become popular objects for collection across the world. Nakamura likes to ponder “what if a doll maker from the Edo period were to travel to the present day?” He imagines channelling such a person, aspiring to their level of skill and artistry, suggesting “my work is simultaneously my own, and yet perhaps not.” Nakamura maintains the essence of the traditional Ningyō but with a modern aesthetic, creating mixed-gender sports figures, figures enjoying leisure actives and symbolic animal characters.
Morito Toyonaga (b. 1976) is based in Okinawa. He studied sculpture at the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts but works across many mediums, including print, ceramics, glass painting and lacquer, often collaborating with other artists and craftspeople. He has exhibited widely across Japan and his works have regularly been selected for the Japan Folk Art Exhibition. This is Toyonaga’s first exhibition in the UK.
Morito Toyonaga is a wood-cut printmaker, a craft that has existed in Japan since its migration from China in the 700s CE and which Toyonaga came to during his early school years. Many of his works take inspiration from the accounts in the Old Testament, or other historical works of literature such as myths, folklore and fairytales, but his simple forms and cartoon-like draughtsmanship create a picture book narrative that feels contemporary and playful. The works are joyfully illustrative beyond a simple accompaniment to text, and so, although visually and stylistically different to Japan’s ukiyo-e woodblock printing tradition, the artist maintains the artforms intentions to communicate and educate.
A new publication will accompany the exhibition and offer a retrospective view of Makoto Kagoshima’s practice to date, incorporating interviews with the artist, a series of essays from leading academics and richly illustrated with images of Kagoshima’s work and exhibitions from recent years. The publication is available to pre-order from Messums Wiltshire now.
Image (top): Makoto Kagoshima ‘Harlequin Apples’
Image (above right): Hiromine Nakamura ‘Giant Panda’
Image (above left): Morito Toyonaga ‘Habakkuk and the Angel’