Art Basel | The Enduring Allure of Japan’s Traditional Crafts

January 15, 2024

Abby Brown

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Although some of Ueda’s pieces function as vessels, most appear to be exuberant failures, cracked and unusable, like ambitious experiments gone awry. Others suggest wildly deformed archaeological finds. Using an unusual technique that involves layering different local clays and powdered glazes in plaster molds, Ueda creates large works derived from archaic pottery vessel forms which are then fired in a traditional wood-fired anagama kiln that he built himself. The clays are carefully chosen for how they react to both each other and with the feldspar, copper, and other materials he introduces. Ueda states that it’s very important that the work’s final form is not totally under his control, and that he aims to convey both beauty and horror. As glassy colors burst forth, renewed, through the chaotic and charred surfaces, we sense the progress of time and the beauty of passing eons.

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