A Look at Jun Kaneko

Essay by ashlinnhennig March 2010

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Whether in a Philadelphia where Giant Heads are on display in a courtyard or being delayed in an Arizona airport and noticing the monolithic Dangos, you cannot escape the extraordinary works of ceramicist Jun Kaneko.

Jun Kaneko was born in 1942 in Nagoya, Japan. The early years of Kanekos life were spent studying the art of painting and regularly attending night school. In the year of 1963, Kaneko left Japan to broaden his art education in Los Angeles, California at Chouinard University Art Institution. While studying at the institution, Kaneko decided to trade in his paintbrush for a set of potter's tools after meeting ceramicist Fred Marer. Shortly after Kaneko began to study with Peter Voulkos and Paul Soldner; whom are notoriously known for being the leaders of the Contemporary Ceramics Movement and using clay as a sculptural medium to create expressive works on a larger scale than ever before.

In numerous publications, Kaneko gives credit to Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, and Jerry Rothman for helping mold him into the artist he is today. After earning an MFA degree Kaneko went on to teach at several prominent institutions and established a name for himself in the ceramics arts community. Currently, Kaneko resides and works in his studio in Omaha Nebraska.

Kaneko is known for hand building large-scale sculptural works that exemplify visual elements dealing with movement, line, and color. The scale of his works appear monumental and create an activated space between the piece and the viewer. The surfaces are always painted with dynamic colors and designs that allow the viewer to become lost in the sculpture. Kanekos geometric patterns often give the sculptures a since of energy and movement. The forms of the sculptures are usually oval, round, or square. Even though his sculptures are very...