Kako Katsumi (b. 1965)
The allure of Kako Katsumi’s work lies partly in the ancient symbolism and mystery of the primitive shapes which decorate the surfaces of his ceramic works. This is certainly not to detract from the mastery of form and material that these works exhibit, but the earthy red, and the strange, yet familiar, symbols speak to a deep, perhaps forgotten, part of our human experience.
The sandy colour and textured surfaces of the body, coupled with the ochre-like red of the decoration, call forth primitive natural images. Kako is inspired by the pottery of the prehistoric Jomon Period of Japan 14,000 BC-300BCE. First reactions to the colours and patterns of his work call forth images of the Australian desert and elements of indigenous painting, further suggesting the meeting points and commonalities of human culture.
Born in 1965, the third generation of a family of potters associated with decorative Kyoto ceramics, Kako moved away from Kyoto and this tradition to explore his individual creativity. From an electric kiln to a wood-fired kiln, Kako established a reputation as a talent in the creation of the challenging Japanese ‘chawan’ used in the formal practice of tea. In 2004 he received the top prize in the Tanabe Museum’s Exhibition for tea wares.
Kako’s recent work has moved beyond traditional wares and traditionally inspired glazes to large-scale sculptural works. After experimentation with the wood-fired kiln, he has returned to the relative control of the electric kiln, certainly a contributory component of his adventures with red glaze and large scale forms. The fugitive reds of early Jomon pottery feature prominently in this new work which he calls ‘haikaku’ ash red. Three firings are required to achieve the colour, one for 10-11 hours at 1250 Celsius.
Now in his mid-forties, Kako is at the very cusp of mastery.