En Iwamura

Ross+Kramer Gallery
Aug 18, 2018 6:08PM

We are happy to introduce you to our one of our new favorite artists, En Iwamura. Born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1988, he blends tradition and history with his vision of a culturally diverse future by creating whimsical ceramic sculptures.

"Golden Girl", 2018

"Romantic Archaeology: Alien Haniwa", 2018

En Iwamura's interest in art started with having two painters as parents. When applying to art school in Japan, where he earned his BFA and first MFA at the Kanazawa College of Art and Craft, he first thought he would follow their path but instead chose ceramics as a medium. This three-dimensional choice allows him to experiment with the viewer's experience of occupying space concurrently with his work. He references this relationship between negative space, viewer, and object back to the Japanese philosophy of Ma. Finding the most comfortable Ma between people, places, or objects can create a specific relationship with that person, place or object relative to an exact moment in time. More than just being three dimensional, clay is also in itself a very historic medium, which helps Iwamura further explore his interest of specific moments in time. As he told Artaxis.org, "Ceramics last longer than human life, and we will communicate with future people with ceramics as an important information system."

Iwamura now has an exhibition at Gallery Valentine in East Hampton, with plans for an exhibition in our Manhattan space this year. He just finished a two year residency program at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Montana, which is when Ross+Kramer got the chance to interview him about Instagram (where we were first introduced), his goals, and his most recent two series of sculptures prior to our gallery opening.

I understand your long term residency at the Archie Bray Foundation was extremely great for you and your career. What is your next move?

Archie Bray was life changing. I was surrounded by [a] great community of artists, supporters, and people who love ceramic art. I finished the program in August 2018. Now I am in the LH project which is in Joseph, Oregon. LH project is [an] invitation only residency program runs by artists Jacob Haßlacher and Chris Antemann. I am invited to go to Jingdezhen in China as a guest artist. And A.I.R Vallauris in France. I would like to broaden my international network as an artist. My challenge in [the] next 5 years is finding where I will be, setting up my own studio, and I would like to start my own family. I have a lot of things I need to play with. I am not sure where I will be in [the] next year...

How do you think the internet, and your following on Instagram, impacts your work and practice? Does it impact your art, with your interest in people’s relationship with space, in ways it doesn’t impact other artists’?

For me, Instagram is helpful marketing tool. I enjoy using it. It has been hard to find exhibition opportunity for me. I use Instagram as one of my exhibitions. I try to post the art works constantly, and share what happening in my studio now. I was in country side of Montana [during the Archie Bray residency], and it was hard to input something fresh from the art world. I use Instagram as [a] researching tool too. However, still I think showing my work in real gallery spaces or exhibition environments is the most important thing. I understand instagram is one of the support tool. I try to find the way to make real work, and make a real network which makes my idea and dream being real.

"Romantic Archaeology: Alien Haniwa", 2018. Iwamura's Romantic Archaeology series creates future archaeology" of aliens and humans that do not exist yet, referencing ancient Japanese tomb figures, or "haniwa".

"Romantic Archaeology: Human Haniwa", 2018

The Young Space blog interview you did last year with Kate Mothes (yngspc.com) was really enlightening when it came to the Romantic Archaeology series. This answer of yours especially:

“Nowadays, society and the world we live is getting a little chaotic. Many people are mentally disconnected in spite of the development of contemporary information technologies, and sometimes do not want to appreciate or acknowledge the difference of diversity. Our world consists of layers, of multiple dimensions of different cultures. Because of this, as an artist and as an alien from a different culture who lives in the USA, I would like to refocus on the theme of “diversity,” and create the ceramic works to communicate with people who live all over the world.”

Do you think using the ceramic medium, something very traditional and hands-on, is your way of slowing down the “chaotic” society we live in?

For me, ceramic is one of the international language. First time when I came to US, I could not speak any English, but I could communicate with people with ceramic art. Most of people are using and touching the ceramics everyday. Using this fundamental material, I want to start communication with people who live in different cultural zone.

Who are the artists, if any, that you look to as an inspiration, within the ceramic medium and elsewhere? Do any of them share the interest you have in cultural diversity?

My first inspiration is both of my parents: Yasuko Hasegawa and Shinich Iwamura. They both [taught] me the scale of art. Jun Kaneko is [my] biggest influence in ceramic art and [my] biggest mentor of Japanese artist who lives in US. Also, I have been inspired [by] a lot of pop culture, like manga, cartoon, animation, movies. Many of them are talking about cultural diversity.

"Mutation Girl", 2018

Do you have a specific story or history in mind when creating these [second series of larger, textured, and colorful] forms? Does [this series] tie in at all with your Romantic Archeology series?

They have  pretty much [the] same concept. Line work (sometimes I call as “Neo Jomon series”) is a simplified version of romantic archaeology, and more focused on silhouette, color, and concept of future.

I was making fake-archaeology, with Romantic Archaeology series, and making ancient looking. The idea came from Japanese Haniwa figures. However, in the process of making the series of works, I realized that I am making the Haniwa for future people, not something came from past. Now, I try to make them clean and crisp, which all ancient artifacts used to be. The inspiration of lines came from ancient African masks, Japanese Jomon pots, Zen Garden, or Aztec artifacts, and more. I want to communicate [with] the people who live 10000 years later. They will see my work as an “ancient artifacts” [that] show culture of 2018.

Are these works indicative of where your focus is turning as an artist?

I think so. I hope so.

I want to continue working as an artist now. My work will be changing in the future, but I want to say from here, my artist career is started.

Ross+Kramer Gallery