Kazuhito Kawai


Kazuhito Kawai’s quest for ugly beauty in ceramic art

Minako Norimatsu | February 10, 2022

Ahead of a show at Steve Turner Gallery, LA, Japanese ceramic artist Kazuhito Kawai discusses the origins of his deliberately deformed kaleidoscopic creations

Works in progress at Kawai’s studio in Kasama, Japan. Photographer: Takashi Homma

The polychromatic clay vessels of Japanese artist Kazuhito Kawai are quite spectacular, the cascade of small, amorphous, textured forms like lava erupting from a volcano. Kawai’s path to ceramic art was far from linear. Born in Kasama, in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan, he studied at London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design, graduating with a degree in fine art in 2007. That year, disillusioned with his future as an artist, he returned to Japan with a sense of failure and spent several years in Tokyo. He recalls, ‘Having stepped away from art, I worked as a salaryman [a Japanese term for white-collar employees that has pejorative connotations, describing men who reluctantly keep on with their boring routine]. But then I applied for a ceramics course at a local college with the aim of making a living as a trained artisan. And the course was free of charge!’ says Kawai with a smile, adding that Kasama, though not as sophisticated as Arita or Mashiko, is a popular pottery region specialising in the production of tableware for daily use.

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