Sokyo Gallery proudly presents a first solo exhibition by John Mason, an American artist
who liberated vessel forms from their function and created a context for non-vessel
ceramic structures. The exhibition will overview more than 60 years of his contributions to
the art of ceramics with a collection of his works from the 1950’s Raku bowls to the most
recent slab-built pieces. The exhibition will showcase thirty-three works from Mason’s
studio in Los Angeles.
John Mason was born in Nebraska in 1927 and grew up in a homestead ranch in the
Nevada desert. He moved to Los Angeles to enroll at the Otis Art Institute, where he met
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Peter Voulkos, who inspired Mason in his transition away from potter’s wheel to making
sculptural forms. Mason and Voulkos worked side by side, building a studio together on
Glendale Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles. The large kilns at Otis and later at this new
studio enabled Mason to explore innovative techniques for making sculptures from clay
and eventually gave birth to his first large-scale sculptural work in 1957. The creative
activities of Mason, along with those of Voulkos and the group of young ceramists around
Otis, incubated the first recognizable Los Angeles avant-garde and left an important mark
in the art history of Southern California.
Mason’s exploration in the ceramics medium has continued to evolve after Voulkos left
Otis: Massive wall reliefs and sculpture frequently in the Cross and X forms in the 1960’s
showed the artist’s interest in structures and geometry; The 1970’s sees more conceptual
works, such as “Hudson River Series,” built with industrial firebricks; and in the late 20th
century Mason re-explores vessel forms with a different sense of geometry in complex
surface patterns and pentagonal shapes. His most recent works are slab-constructed
glazed clay sculptures that resemble figurative art. While Mason’s works receive renewed
appreciation in recent years from the art world, most notably the 2014 Whitney Biennial,
Mason continues to work quietly to pursue his art.
Mason’s work has been shown in museums across the United States, including one-person
exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Pasadena Museum of Art and
the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Whitney Museum of American Art invited him
to its Biennial in 1973 and 2014, and other group exhibitions in 1964, 1976 and 1981.
John Mason: A Survey is on view at 381-2 Motomachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto from July 7
to August 26, 2017, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00AM to 6:00PM.