The surest cure for winter blues can be found in the West End’s Carl Solway Gallery, where Jun Kaneko's big, brash, superbly finished ceramic sculptures and his brilliantly colored paintings and drawings lift the spirit at first glance.
The 68-year-old artist, whose works are included in many prestigious museum collections, left his native Japan to study in California in 1963. There he trained under Peter Voulkos and other leaders of the contemporary ceramics movement. (The movement was based on the notion that ceramics could be free of function; their beauty as art objects was reason enough for their existence.) He has been associated with the Bemis Center For Contemporary Art in Omaha, Neb., since the mid-1980s and later established Jun Kaneko Studio there. He has shown widely in this country and abroad, but this is his first appearance at the Solway Gallery.
A congress of pieces, three repeated shapes in varying sizes, is gathered in Solway’s large front gallery, appearing almost like some strange race that has come together in a city square. They are benign creatures, despite the fact that three of them are taller than your tallest friend, and extraordinarily appealing. The Japanese-born artist calls these works “Dangos.” The Internet tells me “dango” in Japanese means “closed form” or (endearingly) “dumpling” (dango is a sweet Japanese dumpling made of rice). Kaneko's “dumplings” are glazed ceramic sculptures and sport colors of gorgeous variety. They are of a size that calls for skill and even daring, I should think.
Jun Kaneko is on view at Carl Solway Gallery through April 23. Go here to read Jane Durrel's full review.