Crossing Cultures with Akio Takamori
“Frank’s International House of Ceramics,” our upcoming group show, focuses on the diverse group of artists that we represent, including Japanese-American artist Akio Takamori. Born in Nobeoka, Miyazaki, Japan in 1950, Takamori began his ceramic studies as an apprentice to a master-folk potter in Koishiwara, producing identical pieces in a factory setting. After his move to the United States in 1974, Takamori began developing his signature cross-cultural blend of imagery, in sculptures that have been predominantly figurative since the 1990s.
The figures that Takamori produces draw on his memories of growing up in postwar Japan and also reference paintings by Old Masters, Greek mythology, and history. Suzanne Beal of Art in America wrote in 2009 that, “being raised in Japan and coming of age in the U.S gave Takamori a dual perspective, and his work often embraces the tension of “otherness,” the collision of present and past.”
Takamori may have begun his explorations into the meaning of community by recreating his childhood village from memory in the 1970s, but his work has since developed broader implications. He has produced communities of students, sleepers, and other groups, giving them attributes that are neither explicitly Japanese nor Western. In this way, Takamori is able to engage with the global as well as local community, and give free rein to his cross-cultural impulses.