Rokubey Kiyomizu VIII: CERAMIC SIGHT & Megumi Shinozaki: Now/Then

July 22, 2023 – September 16, 2023
Nonaka-Hill Melrose

6917 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA

Rokubey Kiyomizu VIII, Black Ceramic Figure 黒泑陶姿, 2015

Rokubey Kiyomizu VIII, Black Ceramic Figure 黒泑陶姿, 2015

Opening Reception

July 22, 2023 6-8 PM


Nonaka-Hill is pleased to present CERAMIC SIGHT, the first overseas exhibition of sculptures by Kyoto, Japan based, Rokubey Kiyomizu VIII.

Born as Masahiro Kiyomizu in 1954, the artist is the eighth-generation head of the Kiyomizu Rokubey family ceramics kiln, founded in Kyoto in 1771. The legendary kiln has been central to the development of Kyō-ware and to centuries of Japan’s ceramic history. As the eldest son of his predecessor, renowned sculptor Rokubey Kiuomizu VIII, the artist assumed the family name in the year 2000 and maintains stewardship of the legacy. Following in his father’s footsteps, Rokubey Kiuomizu VIII also deviates from the family ceramic traditions by producing predominantly non-functional ceramic sculpture of contemporary artistic merit.

A graduate of Waseda University’s School of Architecture, Rokubey Kiuomizu VIII applies engineering theory to clay slab-building, creating polyhedral sculptures that concretize features of minimalist, cubist, and futurist aesthetics. Composed of single or multiple modular units, Kiyomizu’s crisp, planar transitions might resemble origami or complex compound forms redolent of industrial factories, ancient kivas, totems or Sci-Fi structures. Kiyuomizu works with and against clay’s fugitive nature, pushing the limits of structural integrity to achieve a formal tension. In certain works, the artist engineers sagging, splitting, and curving into his geometric forms, synthesizing his architectural interest and biomorphist leanings.

Rokubey Kiuomizu VIII’s sculptures on view span from 1993 to 2023, revealing an impressive morphology, from floor-bound works to tabletop-sized sculptures that invite intimate and contemplative viewing. Glazed with matte blacks or pearly whites, each sculpture exploits a wide range of tonal shifts in light and shadow. This is further augmented by Kiyomizu’s invariable use of negative space that co-structures each work through soft contours cut into their angular chassis, revealing a tense interplay between curves and right angles.

With titles such as “Structure of Memory,” or “Tower of Memory,” Rokubey Kiuomizu VIII alludes to the “memory” of clay as a recorder of human manipulation and chemical conversion, but also to the sculpture itself as a metaphorical container of human memories or consciousness. In a pyramidal work, “Memories of the Future 22”, it alludes to memories of a future that have already occurred—hinting at a science-fictional dimension.
Rokubey Kiuomizu VIII’s works thus have a world-building undercurrent to them, whose physical voids get filled with our imaginative fumes of fancy. They are mysterious and sensuous objects whose subtle ur-narratives slowly unfurl over repeated viewing.



Megumi Shinozaki: Now/Then

Nonaka-Hill is pleased to present Now/Then, an exhibition of flower-based creations by Tokyo, Japan based artist, Megumi Shinozaki.

Working from her background as a florist in her home city of Tokyo, Megumi Shinzaki has expanded her practice to include paper sculpture and grand scale floral installations. Her approach is at once visceral and contemplative, revealing the otherwise dormant potentials of her floral craft.

An oversized installation of fresh flowers appearing to be rooted in the ceiling overwhelms upon entering the gallery, as if a wild garden has grown over our heads. We gaze up into their “growth”, inverting the flowers’ perspective with our point of view. Over the eight weeks duration of the exhibition, the flowers will dehydrate and transform into their unique organic curvatures. Shinozaki will inevitably have this mass of florescence packaged into groupings that will exist on their own accord and be dispersed.

The same fate awaits flowers like poppies, roses and lilies and dahlias and muscaris––those sirens for the bees, which Shinozaki has recreated in paper: In her Paper Eden series, she sculpts colored paper over wire to deftly mimic various species, each of their stems sprouting from a single rock. Referencing the flower/vase binary, in which nature is ordered and inserted into a human-made object; Shinozaki’s reverses the norms bringing artificial flowers to reside in a natural stone “vase”.

Originally trained as a dressmaker, Shinozaki has brought her expertise into a sprawling range of contexts that include advertising, commercials, music videos, and product packaging. Shinozaki founded several inventive flower-based projects in Tokyo, such as EW.Pharmacy, where customers can mix dried flowers of their choosing into various combinations. Having overgrown the sculptural discipline of flower arrangement, Shinozaki highlights the flower’s ephemerality and cultivates the artificial to reveal the underlying concept of Now/Then; a site-specific expression of life.