An exhibit by renowned ceramic artist Jun Kaneko will alter the visual landscape of the Akron Art Museum’s galleries and its Bud and Susie Rogers Garden through the spring.
“Jun Kaneko: Blurred Lines” presents a dramatic array of Kaneko’s monumental works uniquely selected by the museum’s John S. Knight Director and CEO Mark Masuoka. Highlighting transformational moments throughout Kaneko’s five-decade career, the exhibit includes several large-scale ceramic sculptures, drawings, paintings and a site-specific installation of his 65-foot-long painting, “Mirage.”
“Blurred Lines” also represents the first Akron Art Museum exhibition curated by Masuoka, who drew on a nearly 35-year relationship with the artist to create the exhibit, which opens with a celebration on Friday, Feb. 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. (A members-only preview takes place at 6:30 p.m.) The show will then be on display through June 3.
“Blurred Lines opens a new chapter for the museum by shining a spotlight on an artist who has transformed ceramics into a contemporary art form,” said Masuoka. “Kaneko has always been a rebel and pushed the limits. I am honored to have the opportunity to curate an exhibition that intersects with my own life and to share my connection to Jun as my mentor and friend.”
The artist’s large ceramic sculptures are feats of innovative engineering in and of themselves, often exceeding seven feet in height, and weighing thousands of pounds. “Blurred Lines” features work from Kaneko’s studio and his own private collection. The exhibit highlights his ability to create monumental monochromatic sculptures that define space and volume and create an experiential journey. Masuoka said he chose the works for the exhibit “for their powerful, yet contemplative presence.”
Informed by early experiences in a Zen Garden at Ryōan-ji, Kaneko’s work contains references to rhythm and pattern and sound and silence. His artworks are often covered with stripes, simple geometric shapes and spirals and dots, suggesting themes of light and darkness, mass and space, past and present and a melding of Eastern and Western sensibilities. Kaneko’s restless creativity is driven by a dedication to exploration, play and experimentation.
“Blurred Lines reveals the divergent and ever-changing processes behind several complex bodies of Kaneko’s work,” Masuoka said.
Kaneko was born in Nagoya, Japan in 1942 and studied painting in his adolescence. He studied ceramics with trailblazing artist Peter Voulkos in California in the 1960s and has taught at Scripps College, Rhode Island School of Design and the Cranbrook Academy of Art. His artwork has been included in more than 70 museum collections, and he has completed over 60 public art commissions around the world. He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in London. Since the early 2000s, he has designed sets and costumes for three operas, including Madame Butterfly, which was presented by the San Francisco Opera and the Washington National Opera in 2016-17.
For info, including accompanying events for this exhibit, visit AkronArtMuseum.org. Join the conversation on social media with #KanekoAkron, and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Jun Kaneko: Blurred Lines is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by funds from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council. Media sponsorship by ideastream®.