Uematsu describes his practice as involving, prior to any sort of creative expression, a reckoning with the clay itself. It is an internal process, not of creating something based on a certain theme, but of feeling something when he touches clay dug out of the soil – the most primordial material for all terrestrial life forms – tapping wellsprings of creativity in what he finds there, and forging a link between the conscious and the unconscious. Uematsu’s work has developed through a primal and intuitive approach that transcends the existing frameworks and methodologies of ceramics or contemporary art.
For example, his tea bowls and flower vases have distinctive textures and modeling that give them an imposing presence as objects, transcending their utility as vessels. He has also produced numerous sculptural objects that have
the external characteristics of vessels, but are not practically usable as such. Uematsu has embraced the natural cracking and warping that the mainstream ceramics world avoids, and exhibited diverse works including sculptures with the rough textures of earth and gravel, large-scale installations incorporating fired pottery fragments and raw clay, and interactive works in which the audience participates.
These seemingly disparate works share Uematsu’s fundamentally unchanging process of giving shape to what he senses in the clay, and one gets the impression that each work naturally emerged in the form in which it did. Uematsu has said that he “tries not to overdo things,” and evidently sees a deliberate approach to creative expression based on theory and technique as narrowing down the rich expressive possibilities of clay itself. By enjoying and embracing randomness born out of a profound communion with nature, grappling with the clay and hardening it in fire, he can create truly free and original works that are “gifts from nature.”
Uematsu has been exhibiting frequently since the 1980s at numerous galleries and museums both in Japan and overseas. His work is highly acclaimed across genre boundaries, and was exhibited in the 1985 exhibition ’85 Hinuma: Clay Landscape, along with many prominent contemporary artists including members of the Mono-ha school, and in the 1986 Clay: Image and Form 1981-1985, featuring Japan’s most prominent ceramicists. In more recent years he has held a solo exhibition at Kyoto City University of Arts Art Gallery @KCUA and been featured in a group show at the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art.
From small clay forms to pieces taking up entire walls, all of Uematsu’s works convey the artist’s singular perspective and emotive force. While highly unique, they possess a primal, nostalgic beauty that is universal.
Highlights include Dryness of the Earth (1991) which shows particular bold cracks and delicate natural gradation, Shape that Supports (1995) comprised of three circular sector shaped objects, Festival, and Karuta series (1986) which
have been presented repeatedly in the 1980s and also at the exhibitions of ’85 Hinuma Clay Landscape and Clay -Image and Form 1981-1985.