Goodbye Toshiko Takaezu

A selection of ceramics by Toshiko Takaezu

Japanese/American ceramicist Toshiko Takaezu died last week aged 89.  Renowned for her closed pots and torpedo-like cylinders, her works ranged in scale from minute orbs to six-foot monoliths.  The ceramicist actively promoted the medium as an art form, and embraced the notion that the objects she created were to be seen rather than used.  As such, her works can be viewed as three dimensional canvases.  They are often enlivened by eruptions of colour and brush-strokes that recall the paintings of Takaezu’s contemporaries including Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline.

Takaezu strides past some of her sculptures

But some of the most beautiful elements of Takaezu’s work are invisible.  She left little pieces of clay inside her closed forms so that they emit gentle sounds when moved.  Other works contain secret phrases written within their interiors.  To discover these messages, the works would need to be broken.  Which is not to say that Takaezu was overly precious about her ceramics.  The Zen Buddhist saw her art and life as seamlessly intertwined, even cooking claypot chicken alongside the stoneware baking in her kilns.

Goodbye Toshiko Takaezu

The legacy of Cass

Rita Angus, 'Cass', oil on board, 37 x 46 cm, 1936, Rita Angus Estate
Julian Daspher, 'Cass (8/10)', black and white photograph and crayon, 39 x 49.5 cm, 1986, Auckland Art Gallery
Peter Peryer, 'Cass', digital print, 34.3 x 45 cm, 2004, Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery
Dane Mitchell, 'Cass', graphite on paper, 68.5 x 102 cm, 2006, Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery
Robert Scott, 'Owhiro', pen and acrylic on board, 18 x 18 cm, 2011

A Clean concert is a funny place to start meditating upon the art historical influence of Cass (a small settlement in the South Island of New Zealand immortalised by the Rita Angus painting of the same name).  Yet artwork by The Clean’s Robert Scott at the gig’s merch desk included a charming little painting of a shed in Owhiro that recalled the New Zealand classic.  Scott isn’t the first Kiwi artist to revisit the scene.  Julian Daspher, Peter Peryer and Dane Mitchell have all had a go too.

The legacy of Cass